LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will buy 60 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, health minister Matt Hancock said in a deal that more than doubles the country’s supply of the shot ahead of booster programme later this year.
Britain has now ordered a total of 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is one of three COVID-19 shots being rolled out in the country at the moment.
Hancock said the shots had been secured with a view to supporting a COVID-19 booster vaccination programme starting in the autumn, adding that the biggest risk to Britain’s vaccine rollout so far was a new variant of the coronavirus.
“We’re working on our plans for booster shots,” Hancock said in a statement.
“These further 60 million doses will be used, alongside others, as part of our booster programme from later this year, so we can protect the progress that we’ve all made.”
Earlier on Wednesday, an official from Public Health England said the details of any booster programme were still being worked out, and it would be designed primarily with new variants in mind.
Britain’s health ministry said more details of the booster programme would be published in due course, and would consider data from trials exploring the use of different combinations of COVID-19 vaccines.
Britain has used 47.5 million doses in its vaccine rollout in total so far, nearly 34 million of which are first doses.
While the country is second only to Israel in terms of the proportion of the population that has received a first dose, which stands at around 50%, it has suffered 127,000 deaths from COVID-19, the fifth-highest total globally.
Britain has deals for 517 million doses of eight different COVID-19 vaccines, some of which remain under development.
Britain has a population of 67 million people although most of the vaccines it has ordered require two shots. The government says it has spread its bets in case some vaccines do not succeed in development. A shot developed by Sanofi has been delayed.
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