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Covid immunity wanes after two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in all ages, Israeli study claims

Covid immunity wanes within six months of Pfizer’s second vaccine no matter how old you are, a study has found as the NHS gears up to roll out annual boosters at a cost in the region of £1billion to taxpayers.

People who finished their two-dose course in January had a 51 per cent increased risk of catching the virus by July than those who were jabbed later, according to the research on more than a million Israelis.

Scientists claimed the increased risk of getting infected was visible among people of all ages, although the elderly remain face much higher odds of becoming severely ill. 

The study —  by Israeli researchers using medial data from 1.3million adults in the country — is the first to confirm that younger people also see their immunity against the virus wane within months. There was hope that protection would hold-up better in younger groups because they typically have stronger immune systems.

Israel, which has led the charge on vaccines throughout the pandemic, is already offering boosters to over-16s so long as five months have passed since their second dose. The researchers said it was too early to tell how quickly immunity wanes after a booster jab but it could last longer.

In the UK, top-up doses were approved for all over-50s, health and care home workers and severely ill patients in September and ministers expanded the programme to people in their forties this week.

Vaccine advisers in Britain have admitted that they could be given to younger adults but they are waiting on more conclusive evidence on their safety and efficacy. 

In a sign of the direction of travel, NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard yesterday said the health service is already putting plans in place to deliver a yearly Covid booster vaccine campaign in Britain.

No10 has already bought 35million doses of Pfizer’s Covid jab — enough to cover the most vulnerable — for next autumn’s booster jab drive, in a deal worth around £1billion. But the total price would be even higher if everyone needed a top-up dose, given the jabs are priced at around £22 a piece. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already conceded Britons might need proof of a booster jab to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ in the future, in a move which could cause fresh chaos for holiday plans.

Israeli researchers found people vaccinated in January and February (blue line) had a 51 per cent higher chance of being infected in July than those jabbed in March and April (orange line) regardless of age. Graph shows: The age-adjusted probability of infection in fully vaccinated people in both groups from the start of June 1

Graph shows: The age-adjusted probability of hospitalisation in people who were fully vaccinated in January to February (blue line) compared to those in March to April (orange line) from the start of June 1

Graph shows: The age-adjusted probability of hospitalisation in people who were fully vaccinated in January to February (blue line) compared to those in March to April (orange line) from the start of June 1

Pictured: Health Secretary Sajid Javid receives his Covid booster jab from Nikki Kanani, Medical director primary care NHS England, at a pharmacy in central London today

Amanda Pritchard said the NHS is already putting plans in place should it be required to deliver a yearly vaccine campaign

Left: Health Secretary Sajid Javid receives his Covid booster jab from Nikki Kanani, Medical director primary care NHS England, at a pharmacy in central London today. Right: Amanda Pritchard said the NHS is already putting plans in place should it be required to deliver a yearly vaccine campaign

The study, by the KI Research Institute in Israel, used medical records from the private healthcare company Maccabi Healthcare Services.

Some 365 per 100,000 people of all ages who were double-jabbed in January became infected with Covid between June 1 and July 27. 

This was higher than those fully vaccinated in February (337), March (231) and April (170).

After adjusting for age and whether people were more vulnerable to Covid, the researchers found a statistically significant 51 per cent increased risk of infection after vaccination in the people inoculated earlier in the year.

They found a similar relative increase in risk for hospitalisation but it was not statistically significant. The findings are published in Nature Communications.

‘It is obscene’: Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are making combined profits of more than £745 every second 

The three companies responsible for developing and distributing the two most commonly used Covid vaccines around the world are bringing in millions of pounds in profits every hour, research has found.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), an international non-profit working to close the global vaccine disparity, analysed the earnings reports of Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna and found that the companies will make a combined £25million ($34billion) in profit this year.

When broken down, that is £70million ($93.5million) a day, £48,360 ($65,000) a minute and more than £744 ($1,000) every second of profit.

The companies have received widespread criticism for valuing rich contracts with western nations and protection of its intellectual property (IP) instead of making the jabs accessible in the developing world. 

Maaza Seyoum of PVA Africa said: ‘It is obscene that just a few companies are making millions of dollars in profit every single hour, while just two percent of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

‘Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna have used their monopolies to prioritize the most profitable contracts with the richest governments, leaving low-income countries out in the cold.’

Dr Barak Mizrahi, a researcher in computational health for the KI Institute who led the study, told the Jerusalem Post: ‘The vaccine’s effectiveness wanes equally for everybody, according to the study.’

He said the results were consistent with lab studies which showed antibodies wane at between four and six months. 

The findings come after Ms Pritchard yesterday suggested the NHS is gearing up for an annual booster vaccine rollout.

In a speech to the NHS Providers annual conference, Ms Pritchard said: ‘We had the latest advice yesterday from the JCVI on extending (boosters) to the over-40s, as well as giving second doses to 16- and 17-year-olds, and I think we can expect further expansions in the future.

‘We are already thinking about how we can do annual booster vaccines, if they are needed.’

Professor Mike Tildesley, a member of the Government’s scientific advisory group, said that repeated vaccinations could be offered ‘for years to come’ to keep Covid-19 at a bay. 

He told Sky News: ‘In the longer term, Covid is likely to become endemic and we probably are going to have to manage it with repeated vaccination campaigns for years to come.

Data published this week by the UK Health Security Agency revealed that people who get a third shot are 80 per cent less likely to get symptomatic Covid than those who had their second dose in spring.  

There has not been enough time to measure the effect on hospitalisations and deaths but officials claimed protection is expected to be ‘even higher’.

Compared to an unvaccinated person, people given boosters are more than 90 per cent less likely to fall ill with Covid.

Meanwhile, the Department for Health and Social Care said that 13million booster or third jab have been given so far across the UK, including more than 1million in the last three days.

It comes after research showed the three companies responsible for developing and distributing the two most commonly used Covid vaccines around the world are bringing in millions of pounds in profits every hour. 

The People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), an international non-profit working to close the global vaccine disparity, analysed the earnings reports of Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna and found that the companies will make a combined £25million ($34billion) in profit this year.

When broken down, that is £70million ($93.5million) a day, £48,360 ($65,000) a minute and more than £744 ($1,000) every second of profit.

The companies have received widespread criticism for valuing rich contracts with western nations and protection of its intellectual property (IP) instead of making the jabs accessible in the developing world. 

Maaza Seyoum of PVA Africa said: ‘It is obscene that just a few companies are making millions of dollars in profit every single hour, while just two percent of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

‘Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna have used their monopolies to prioritize the most profitable contracts with the richest governments, leaving low-income countries out in the cold.’

Covid boosters reduce the chance of infection by 80% compared to non-vaccinated people, official data suggests 

People with a Covid booster only have a one in five chance of catching Covid compared to the unvaccinated, new data shows.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has estimated the likelihood of catching Covid based on a person’s vaccination status.

People who had just received a Covid booster enjoyed the best protection, along with those who had natural immunity from previously been infected by the virus.

These people were 80 per cent less likely to test positive for Covid compared to the unvaccinated.

People who had got their second Pfizer jab up to 90 days ago had slightly less protection, being 78 per cent chance less likely to test positive.

But in possible a sign of waning immunity, the protection from two jabs of Pfizer dropped to only a 60 per cent reduction 91 days after getting the vaccine.

For the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, those who got this vaccine had 34 per cent less chance of testing positive for Covid up to 90 days after their second dose.

Contrary to the Pfizer jab, data from the ONS shows this those who got the vaccine more than 91 days ago had 39 per cent less chance of catching the vaccine.

The ONS did not offer any reasons for this trend but one possible explanation is more people in the under 40s received the Pfizer jab after a small blood clot risk was identified in the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

People over the age of 40 who received the AstraZeneca vaccine may also be behaving more cautiously as they wait to receive their booster jab.

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