The British health ministry in light of the emergence of the new Omicron variant have agreed to enter into deals to buy 114 million more Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shots, thus speeding up signing the new contracts.
According to the health ministry, the deal involves an additional 54 million Pfizer and 60 million Moderna doses for next year and 2023. While it will also include access to any modified vaccinations in case they are needed to fight the latest new strain or any other variant in the near future.
Health minister Sajid Javid mentioned that these new deals will future proof the country’s vaccination effort.
UK has so far delivered more than 115 million first, second and COVID-19 booster vaccines. Almost 89% of the population aged over 12, which is around 51 million people in the country have received their first COVID-19 vaccine, more than 46 million have received two doses, and 18.6 million have received a booster dose.
According to an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday, a new target has been set up this week that will offer all adults a vaccine booster by the end of January.
Britain has so far identified around 32 cases of the heavily mutated Omicron variant, which it is feared could be more transmissible, thus sparking the government into boosting the vaccine programme.
According to reports, the latest contracts for the additional vaccines comes on top of a previous order made in August from Pfizer for 35 million shots for the second half of next year. While 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)/Sanofi doses which are due in 2022 although yet to be approved by the British regulator.
The British government mentioned that it remained committed to donating 100 million doses by the middle of 2022, and will also donate another 30 million by the end of this year.
Lastly, according to reports, on Thursday, Johnson is also scheduled to host a roundtable of leaders from major pharmaceutical firms including AstraZeneca, GSK and Pfizer to discuss preparations to deal with any future pandemics.