James Forsyth James Forsyth

The problems posed by booster shots

(Photo by John Thys, via Getty Images.)

It is already known that there will be a campaign of booster shots in the UK this autumn to boost immunity among the over-50s. But it now looks like the government is planning one for autumn 2022 as well. Steven Swinford reports in the Times today that the UK has ordered 35 million doses from Pfizer for next year.

The number of doses ordered suggests that the government wants to have the option in 2022 of giving a booster shot to everyone in clinical groups 1-9: the over-50s. Swinford reports that the government was prompted to act, in part, by the fact that the EU has already placed an order for 900 million Pfizer shots over the next two years.

It seems likely that richer countries will go down the booster shot route in the coming months. The US was initially dismissive of the idea, but is now moving towards it. 

But while the desire of individual countries to protect their own citizens is understandable, it does pose a problem. If richer countries are placing orders for booster shots, it will put further pressure on vaccine supplies and make it more difficult to get people in poorer countries vaccinated. Leaving aside all the ethical issues raised by this, the truth is that as long as large parts of the world are unvaccinated, it will be hard for international travel and the normal flows of the global economy to fully resume.

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