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Vaccinating teenagers should be the priority to avoid another wave of Covid infections, professor Neil Ferguson has said.
The member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the UK had been leading in Europe on vaccination until recently but other countries such as Spain and Portugal, “have got higher vaccination levels than us and that’s largely because they have rolled out vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds faster than us.”
“They also vaccinated more recently, and we know now that vaccine effectiveness decays over time, we always expected that, and so they have more immunity in the population,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme
“There are a set of countries in Europe with considerably more population immunity than us and I think if we want to stop the risk of the large autumn and winter wave we need to boost immunity in the population.”
The UK’s chief medical officers are currently reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, such as minimising school absences.
It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) declined to recommend a widespread rollout to the age group on health grounds alone.
Ferguson, whose modelling was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, also said he was supportive of booster jabs for a wider population.
He said evidence from Israel suggests they “really are very effective at further driving down transmission and infection”.
Asked whether a further lockdown could be ruled out, he said “I hope so” but added that “you can’t rule out anything completely.”