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Britain is considering giving out fourth Covid vaccines in a bid to stop the surge of Omicron cases, following the lead of Germany and Israel.

The rollout of a second set of boosters is being examined by experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

They will weigh up the levels of immunity granted by the extra jab as well as hospitalisation figures, The Telegraph reported.

Those with weakened immune systems are already entitled to a fourth job but the elderly and other vulnerable groups could soon be included.

The fourth jab would likely come four months after the third if it gets the green light and could be available in the new year. 

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, said: ‘We need to see more data. We are in different circumstances to Israel and we need to see more data on waning immunity and vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation.’

An Israeli health expert, who s sharing findings with the UK, said they are already seeing waning immunity from the third jab, prompting the extra round of vaccinations. 

Britain is considering giving out fourth Covid vaccines in a bid to stop the surge of Omicron cases

Britain is considering giving out fourth Covid vaccines in a bid to stop the surge of Omicron cases

Britain is considering giving out fourth Covid vaccines in a bid to stop the surge of Omicron cases

People queue outside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv

People queue outside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv

People queue outside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv

Germany has ordered millions of extra doses of Covid vaccine and intends to offer another round of boosters

Germany has ordered millions of extra doses of Covid vaccine and intends to offer another round of boosters

Germany has ordered millions of extra doses of Covid vaccine and intends to offer another round of boosters

The number of Omicron cases reported in the UK is increasing slower than scientists predicted. However some experts fear that the country has hit the limit of its testing capacity and that this is throttling the data

The number of Omicron cases reported in the UK is increasing slower than scientists predicted. However some experts fear that the country has hit the limit of its testing capacity and that this is throttling the data

The number of Omicron cases reported in the UK is increasing slower than scientists predicted. However some experts fear that the country has hit the limit of its testing capacity and that this is throttling the data

Israel announced today citizens over the age of 60 and medical teams would be eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine shot.

‘The world will follow in our footsteps,’ Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted. 

Bennett, who has sought to drum up higher Israeli turnout for vaccines, welcomed the decision as ‘great news that will help us overcome the Omicron wave that is spreading around the world’.

The Israeli government moved quickly against Omicron, barring foreigners from entering on November 25 and expanding a list of high-risk countries to which its citizens should not travel to include the United States this week.

On Tuesday, an Israeli hospital reported the country’s first known death of a patient with Omicron, before amending the statement to say a final laboratory investigation had determined he was infected with the Delta variant. 

Soroka Medical Center said the man, in his 60s and with serious pre-existing conditions, died on Monday, two weeks after he was admitted to a COVID-19 ward.

The Health Ministry said there were at least 340 known cases of Omicron in Israel as of Tuesday. 

Israel said it will share its data with the UK on fourth doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the over-60s, healthcare workers and those with lower immunity.

Professor Nadav Davidovitch, director of the School of Public Health at Ben Gurion University in Israel and a member of the Pandemic Expert Committee, said: ‘We are seeing waning immunity, reflected in the reduction of antibodies and also in breakthrough infections, in people that got the third dose. 

‘It’s a bit similar to the situation with the second dose several months ago. Due to this, some of us thought that those who are more than four months after their third dose ought to be vaccinated.’

But he acknowledged the UK’s situation is different, having already experienced a huge wave of Omicron cases compared to Israel. 

Meanwhile Germany has ordered millions of new doses after health minister Karl Lauterbach warned a fourth dose will be necessary to tackle the strain.

Lauterbach, who has thrown his support behind a vaccine mandate, has ordered 80million doses of a Biontech vaccine which targets Omicron and should arrive in Germany by May. 

Germany has warned a fourth Covid vaccine will be needed to stop the spread of the contagious Omicron variant, health minister Karl Lauterbach (pictured) has warned

Germany has warned a fourth Covid vaccine will be needed to stop the spread of the contagious Omicron variant, health minister Karl Lauterbach (pictured) has warned

Germany has warned a fourth Covid vaccine will be needed to stop the spread of the contagious Omicron variant, health minister Karl Lauterbach (pictured) has warned 

He has also ordered 4million doses of the newly approved vaccine Novavax – seen as more acceptable to vaccine sceptics – and 11million doses of the new Valneva shot, which is waiting for marketing authorisation.

It comes as Boris Johnson will wait until after December 25 to announce any post-Christmas Covid changes, after studies showed Omicron is milder and far less likely to cause hospitalisation than Delta – but hospitality bosses are pleading for clarity over plans for New Year’s Eve. 

Venues are desperate to know whether they will be allowed to open on what is a crucial day of trading, especially after weeks of devastation caused by the Omicron variant.

But sources said the Government will not make any announcements on further measures this week, meaning venues will likely only get clarity at the last minute.

Some nightclubs make as much as a tenth of their annual profits on New Year’s Eve and lockdown measures could plunge more pubs, bars and restaurants into financial ruin. Wales has banned large New Year’s Eve celebrations and said nightclubs must close. In Scotland, hospitality has been hampered by rules which limit serving alcohol to table service only from December 27.

The concerns come after senior SAGE scientist Neil Ferguson — who just last week warned there could be up to 5,000 daily Omicron deaths in the UK — said the country’s fourth wave will be ‘nothing like what we seen last year, with ICUs overflowing with patients’ on the back of the new findings.

Boris Johnson will wait until after December 25 to announce any post-Christmas Covid changes, after studies showed Omicron is milder and far less likely to cause hospitalisation than Delta

Boris Johnson will wait until after December 25 to announce any post-Christmas Covid changes, after studies showed Omicron is milder and far less likely to cause hospitalisation than Delta

Boris Johnson will wait until after December 25 to announce any post-Christmas Covid changes, after studies showed Omicron is milder and far less likely to cause hospitalisation than Delta

Researchers at Imperial College London found Omicron is 10 per cent less likely to cause hospitalisation in someone who has never been vaccinated or previously infected with Covid than with Delta. Hospitalisation is up to 20 per cent less likely in the general population — including those who have been infected or vaccinated — and 45 per cent less likely for at least a night

University of Edinburgh researchers found the risk of being hospitalised with Omicron was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta. Graph shows: The rate of hospitalisation in different age groups for Delta (green) and Omicron (red) cases in Scotland

University of Edinburgh researchers found the risk of being hospitalised with Omicron was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta. Graph shows: The rate of hospitalisation in different age groups for Delta (green) and Omicron (red) cases in Scotland

University of Edinburgh researchers found the risk of being hospitalised with Omicron was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta. Graph shows: The rate of hospitalisation in different age groups for Delta (green) and Omicron (red) cases in Scotland

His team at Imperial College London found that overall, Britons who catch Omicron are between 15 and 20 per cent less likely to be admitted than those who get Delta.

But the real-world analysis, of more than 300,000 people between December 1 and 14, found the chance of having to stay in the NHS overnight was even lower, with a reduced risk of between 40 and 45 per cent. 

The findings are believed to have been the reason Mr Johnson pumped the brakes on tougher Christmas restrictions despite case numbers rising to record levels — with 106,122 positive tests recorded today.

But uncertainty remains over the last few days of the year, with  Greater Manchester’s night time economy advisor Sacha Lord saying it is critical the Government announces a decision for England as quickly as possible. 

He praised the Prime Minister for recognising the importance of keeping the hospitality sector open but said it is ‘in limbo’ with the threat of restrictions hanging overhead.

Mr Lord said: ‘Every operator wants to operate. But responsible operators say safety has to come first. So with how much planning goes into New Year’s Eve the second they know what they’re doing there can be no dithering around like the last few weeks, they must come out with absolute clarity, certainty and guidance.’

Mr Lord, who also founded Manchester’s Warehouse Project and Park Life festival, said any closures on New Year’s Eve would force people into much more contagious house parties.

Mr Lord said: ‘In Wales and Scotland it shows what they think about hospitality and the night time economy.’ He was echoed by the boss of the British Beer and Pub Association Emma McClarkin, who said: ‘New Year’s Eve and the build-up to the New Year – whether it is family meals or those wanting to toast 2022 with a pint in their hands – is a huge part of our festive trading. We have already been decimated by the Government’s announcement and are desperately hoping we can cling on into the New Year and find a way to trade our way into recovery in 2022.’

Jonathan Neame, boss of Britain’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame, said: ‘We hope that pubs stay open and that there are no further restrictions.’

MailOnline analysis of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows Covid cases doubled in all but one of Omicron London's 32 boroughs last week and trebled in seven

MailOnline analysis of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows Covid cases doubled in all but one of Omicron London's 32 boroughs last week and trebled in seven

MailOnline analysis of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows Covid cases doubled in all but one of Omicron London’s 32 boroughs last week and trebled in seven

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400. London is averaging 217 admissions a day as of December 19, the latest date daily figures are available for

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400. London is averaging 217 admissions a day as of December 19, the latest date daily figures are available for

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400. London is averaging 217 admissions a day as of December 19, the latest date daily figures are available for

And Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said the Government should not cancel New Year, adding: ‘Do not follow Scotland.’

Industry body UK Hospitality said businesses in Wales are being devastated by the country’s new restrictions.

Its Welsh arm’s executive director David Chapman said: ‘Hundreds of millions of pounds of business have been lost in the run-up to a very quiet Christmas and things will now get worse from Boxing Day.’

The reaction from hospitality bosses comes after a study found that even an unvaccinated person who has never had Covid and has no immunity, there was a 10 per cent lower risk of being hospitalised with Omicron compared to Delta.

For someone how has been recently infected, the chance of hospitalisation was slashed by 69 per cent in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The finding may explain why in South Africa — where up to 70 per cent of people have immunity from prior infection but only a quarter are jabbed — is seeing daily hospitalisations stall at less than 400.

Professor Ferguson said: ‘You can see in London, we are getting a lot more people hospitalised. Not for very long, probably not with very severe illness.

‘And that’s not a reflection of Omicron versus Delta — that was already true for Delta infections, that they’re less severe than they were last year because there’s a lot of immunity in the population.

‘The challenge is, if there’s enough of them it still poses quite a challenge to the NHS. We’re not talking about anything like what we saw last year with over-flowing intensive care units and ventilator beds.’

The notoriously gloomy expert confirmed he expected the Omicron wave to be milder, with patients discharged from hospitals quicker and fewer Covid deaths, but warned there could still be significant pressure on the NHS.

He also warned that if infections are 40 per cent higher than they were with Delta then that could offset any reduction in severity.

The data came just moments after a similar study conducted in Scotland found the risk of being hospitalised with Omicron was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta.

University of Edinburgh researchers said Omicron was as severe as delta they would have seen around 47 people in hospital in Scotland, yet so far there are only 15. 

Meanwhile, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford today announced new Covid restrictions will return on Boxing Day, with large New Year’s Eve parties banned and the rule of six re-imposed on pubs and restaurants.

The two-metre social distancing will return in most public settings, while hospitality venues will be limited to table service-only and customers will have to wear face masks at all times apart from when seated.

Scotland has also announced stricter guidance for after Christmas but the Prime Minister has said there is not ‘enough evidence’ on Omicron to justify tougher curbs yet.

The PM declared last night that Christmas can definitely go ahead ‘cautiously’, but warned that the Government is tracking the spread of the mutant strain hour by hour and is ‘ready’ to act after December 25 if necessary. 

Source: Daily Mail UK

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