LONDON: Hot on the heels of Israel, Germany has announced the rollout of a fourth Covid booster to tackle the new vaccine evading Omicron variant of coronavirus. Britain is also mulling for the fourth dose, as cases mount.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on Wednesday warned that a fourth dose will be necessary to tackle Omicron, Daily Mail reported.
The country has ordered millions of new doses of an omicron-specific vaccine on order from BioNTech. However, delivery is not expected to take place until April or May.
Currently, Moderna's Covid vaccine is used in the booster campaign, Lauterbach said, adding that Germany had also ordered 4 million doses of the new Novavax jab, and 11 million doses of the new Valneva shot, which is waiting for marketing authorisation.
According to Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control chief, the Omicron variant would be the dominant form of the virus by mid-January, Dw.com reported.
Lothar Wieler said that an infection wave of "unseen momentum" threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system in Germany.
"In the past few days, the number of cases has been declining, but unfortunately, this is not a sign of easing," Wieler was quoted as saying during a press conference in Berlin.
"We need to get the still very high case numbers down. Christmas must not be the spark that lights the Omicron fire," he added.
Germany reported 45,659 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, 5,642 fewer than a week ago, while the death toll rose by 510.
Following the lead of Germany and Israel, the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is also considering the rollout of a second set of boosters.
The experts at JCVI will weigh up the levels of immunity granted by the extra jab as well as hospitalisation figures, The Telegraph reported.
While people with weakened immune systems are already entitled to a fourth job, this may be extended to the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
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, the report 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," Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, was quoted as saying.
The UK reported more than 100,000 new daily infections for the first time on Wednesday.