Covid-19 Update

Department of Health and Social Care written statement – made am ar 7 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

His Majesty’s Government (HMG) led the world in vaccinating our population against COVID-19. We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable as guided by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The JCVI has published further advice on the COVID-19 vaccination programme. The JCVI advice is that a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered in spring 2024 to those at greatest risk of serious disease and who are therefore most likely to benefit from vaccination. Those eligible are:

  • adults aged 75 years and over;
  • residents in a care home for older adults; and
  • individuals aged 6 months and over who are immunosuppressed (as defined in tables 3 or 4 in chapter 14a of the UK Health Security Agency’s Green Book).

Throughout the pandemic, older people have been amongst those most likely to experience severe disease if infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Existing data on hospital admissions in the UK are consistent with the clinical risk continuing to be higher in those aged 75 years and above.

The JCVI advice is that this further spring dose should be offered around 6 months after the last vaccine dose and with a minimum gap of 3 months.

HMG has accepted this advice and I am informed that all four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice.

The JCVI has also provided advice on which vaccine products should be used as part of the spring 2024 COVID-19 programme. The committee has advised that for spring 2024, the latest COVID-19 XBB-variant vaccines are considered preferable; and mRNA Omicron XBB.1.5 COVID-19 variant vaccines which have been pre-procured as part of the UK’s pandemic emergency response are considered the most cost-effective vaccines for use under existing circumstances.

Considerations on future COVID-19 vaccination programmes

The JCVI will continue to review the optimal timing and frequency of COVID-19 vaccination beyond spring 2024. The on-going increase in population immunity permits the development of a more targeted programme aimed at those at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 disease. As the UK moves towards routine procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccination, cost-effectiveness will become a major determining factor in future advice pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccination programme. The JCVI advice indicates that, based on the most recent cost-effectiveness assessment, any autumn 2024 campaign may be smaller than previous autumn COVID-19 campaigns. The JCVI will give further advice on this in due course.

Notification of liabilities

I am now updating the House on the liabilities HMG has taken on in relation to further vaccine deployment via this statement and accompanying Departmental Minutes laid in Parliament containing a description of the liability undertaken. The agreement to provide indemnity with deployment of further doses increases the contingent liability of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. HMG is already looking to move to vaccine market standard indemnity provisions for the procurement of future COVID-19 vaccines.

I will update the House in a similar manner as appropriate, as and when any future decisions impact the contingent liability of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.