Millions of Covid vaccines could be thrown away unless booster uptake among young people increases, government fears.
The booster drive has slowed down to just 140,000 jabs a day, barely a fifth of the number being handed out in the run-up to Christmas.
This is despite the fact that 20 million adults in England still don’t have extra doses – or 40 percent of all over 18s. Rates are even lower among 18-24 year olds, who sit around 30 percent.
In terms of those who qualify, that is, those who received their second dose at least three months ago, only half have come forward.
Health Minister Sajid Javid today called on young adults to get their booster shots, saying it will help “keep you and your loved ones safe”. Officials have embarked on another advertising blitz in hopes of boosting adoption.
But there are concerns that the collapsing Omicron wave and the fading sense of crisis will lead to fewer people signing up.
Now that the worst of the outbreak seems to be over, England is looking to ditch vaccine passports before the end of this month. Ministers are also calling for the repeal of the WFH guidelines for fear it will seriously harm the economy.
Self-isolation will be reduced to five days for vaccinated people who test positive, with Mr Javid saying the UK will become ‘the freest in Europe’.
Booster use is lowest among young adults, whom pastors turn to for a boost. But in older age groups who are more at risk, almost everyone has received a third dose
There are currently more than 25 million vaccine doses available in Britain, reports the I newspaper, enough for anyone who needs a third dose.
But Pfizer and Moderna shots — which are used in the disc — can be kept for only nine months in the freezer and one month after thawing.
It means that doses made available in injection centers will be lost if they are not used in the coming months.
Covid cases have now peaked in every region of England, figures show
Covid cases have now peaked in every region of England, official data now shows more evidence that the worst of the Omicron outbreak is over.
Daily infections have fallen week-on-week across the country for the past seven days and dropped below six figures for the first time in more than a fortnight yesterday – to just under 98,000.
The number of infections only increased in the northeast, but the latest government figures show they now mirror the rest of the country.
Fascinating maps show how the virus is seemingly dying out naturally, with cases falling week after week in about 87 percent of areas.
The Northeast had become an Omicron hotspot in recent weeks after the outbreak migrated north, and it is home to seven of the ten local authorities with the largest outbreaks.
One in 40 people (2.6 percent) living in the region tested positive in the past week, the highest point in the pandemic.
Hospital admissions – which are a lagging indicator – have continued to rise with nearly 400 daily Covid admissions in the region last week, similar to levels seen during the devastating second wave.
But admissions to intensive care beds have barely increased since the Covid outbreak in England started to escalate, giving No10 confidence it could ‘ride out’ the current wave. And a large number of experts believe that Omicron infections are now reaching their peak in the country.
A source from Whitehall told the paper: ‘There are concerns about waste – you’re planning for a certain number of people to come forward, and if they don’t, you’ve got a problem.’
Official figures show that uptake is lowest among 18- to 24-year-olds, where only 28.9 percent received a boost (or 1.5 of the 5.3 million in the age group through January 13).
They are followed by 25- to 29-year-olds where 31.3 percent have received their third dose (or 1.4 out of 4.5 million), and 30- to 34-year-olds where 36.7 percent have received three injections ( 1.7 out of 4.8 million).
The uptake is highest among the over-75s, where 91.7 percent gets a boost (4.5 out of 4.9 million), and adults in their early 70s with 90 percent (2.5 out of 2.8 million).
Government figures show that while 80 percent of the eligible population is now getting a boost, it drops to 57 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds.
Older people are most at risk of suffering from serious illness and being hospitalized if they contract the virus.
But scientists say boosters benefit all age groups because they reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 88 percent and the risk of symptomatic infection by 70 percent.
It comes as ministers today launched a new filter on Snapchat in an effort to increase the number of jabs in younger age groups.
A similar filter has been available on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook since the end of November, which also includes the slogan ‘I’ve had my booster’.
Mr Javid urged young people to get their boosters so the nation could “learn to live with Covid”.
He said: ‘More than nine in ten eligible over-50s have already received their boost and we are calling on young people to play their part and Get Boosted Now.
“Vaccines provide strong protection against serious diseases from Omicron and help keep you and your loved ones safe.”
Frontline drugs also called on everyone to get their top-up shots.
dr. Kishan Bodalia, who works in intensive care units in Birmingham and became famous after performing DJ sets in his kitchen, said: ‘As a doctor I know that young people often think they are invincible, but I see more and more young people in the hospital with Covid, with the vast majority of people in the hospital not being vaccinated.
“I want to remind people that you can still get seriously ill with the virus, so getting the shot is so important to protect ourselves, your friends and loved ones.”
Boris Johnson threw open the booster drive to all over 18s amid concerns over the arrival of the Omicron variant last month.
He also set a target of delivering a million booster shots a day, which is close to the NHS for a short period of time.
But after the Christmas period, the uptake of the injections has slowed down.
Figures show that an average of 180,000 boosters are now being handed out.
That’s barely 20 percent of the 840,000 that were handed out every day three weeks in advance.
Britons can only get booster shots if they are over 18 and have had their second dose at least three months ago.
If they get Covid, they have to wait a month before getting their top-up dose.
More than 80 percent of people over 18 have already received two doses, but it’s not clear which proportion is currently waiting because they’ve recently had the virus.
In the UK, Covid cases are starting to fall. Cases are now falling in every region as well, according to official data indicating the worst of the wave may be over.
In England, Javid praised the “encouraging signs” but warned that hospitals remained under “considerable pressure,” The Times reports.
The paper added that it was unlikely that Covid passes would be renewed if the health ministry claimed it was no longer necessary.
Alicia Kearns, the MP for Rutland and Melton, yesterday urged the health minister to “drop domestic certification as soon as possible.”
He replied, “I assure her and the House that as far as I am concerned we will not maintain domestic certification for a moment longer than absolutely necessary.”
Former cabinet minister Greg Clark called on Javid to lift the curbs later this month, saying they will have “an impact beyond Covid as we know”.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Javid cut the number of days people must self-isolate if they test positive for Covid in England to five.
The health minister told MPs that data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that ‘around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer contagious by the end of day five’.
He added: ‘After reviewing all the evidence, we have made the decision to shorten the minimum self-isolation period in England to five full days. From Monday, people will be able to test twice before going – causing isolation at the start of day six.
“These two tests are crucial to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I urge everyone to use the capacity we have built in tests so that we can restore freedoms to this country while keeping everyone safe.”