Omicron: Third case of variant is found in the UK
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Britain’s top vaccine team is considering whether to extend the booster jab programme to all adults in a bid to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant. Members of the Joint Committee on Vaccination Immunisation (JCVI) could make a decision as to whether to allow all over 18s to get their booster doses as early as today, Whitehall sources have said.
The booster programme is currently only available to those aged 40 and over, front-line health and social workers and those with health issues.
Reports come just as regulations set out by Boris Johnson, 57, are due to reach Parliament.
The “temporary and precautionary” rule changes, which focus on mask-wearing and isolation, were announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday and follow on from the so-called Omicron strain of COVID-19.
Rules are set to come into force at 4am on Tuesday.
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The variant, reported to the World Health Organisation from South Africa last Wednesday, has been detected three times in the UK – one in Essex, one in Nottingham and one in London.
Following news of the Omicron variant, the UK placed Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe on the so-called red list.
The Health Security Agency has since confirmed the person who carried Omicron in London is no longer in the UK but added it is “very likely” more cases will be found in the coming days.
But the JCVI will also reportedly consider whether they will allow children aged between 12 and 15 to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sky News reports JCVI deputy chairman Professor Anthony Harnden has said it would be a “sensible strategy” to offer the jab to a wider age range and to reduce the gap between second and third vaccinations.
The Oxford University Professor added: “Accelerating the booster programme both by extending the age range and by reducing the interval between the second dose and the booster dose would be a sensible strategy.”
But Health Secretary Sajid Javid, 51, appeared to play down the need to resort to the Government’s Covid plan B.
Instead, he claimed it would be a “very heavy price” to impose additional restrictions.
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The MP for Bromsgrove added: “So, if one was to make decisions like that they would have to be done very, very carefully and we’re not there yet, we’re nowhere near that.”
Recent figures compiled by the UK Government found 88.5 percent of the population aged 12 or over received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 80.5 percent have been jabbed twice and 30.6 percent have received their booster shot.
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