Ex-head of UK Vaccine Taskforce Calls for End to Mass Vaccination

Ex-head of UK Vaccine Taskforce Calls for End to Mass Vaccination
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) sits opposite Gordon Halfacre as he receives his COVID-19 vaccine from corporal Lorna MacDonald during a visit to a vaccination centre in Northampton on Jan. 6, 2022. (Peter Cziborra/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Alexander Zhang

Mass vaccination against COVID-19 should come to an end and the UK should focus on managing it as an endemic disease like flu, the former chairman of Britain’s vaccine taskforce has said.

Dr. Clive Dix, who played a key role in helping pharmaceutical firms create the COVID-19 vaccines, said that mass vaccination should end after the ongoing booster campaign, and the UK should start returning to a “new normality” in which the focus is placed on limiting serious illness rather than stopping the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he told The Observer newspaper, the Sunday edition of The Guardian. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”

“We now need to manage disease, not virus spread,” he added. “So stopping progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups is the future objective.”

Dix said he supports the current booster campaign, but a “new targeted strategy” is needed to get the UK to a position of “managing COVID.”

He said it is time to consider managing COVID-19 as something akin to flu. “We should consider when we stop testing and let individuals isolate when they are not well and return to work when they feel ready, in the same way we do in a bad influenza season,” he said.

Dix urged the government to support research into COVID-19 immunity to include B-cells and T-cells, which he said could help create vaccines for vulnerable people specific to variants such as Delta and Omicron.
Dix’s intervention came as the UK government’s vaccination advisory committee recommended against giving a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to nursing home residents and people over 80.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said on Jan. 7 that the three doses of the vaccines are still providing “very good protection against severe disease,” and an immediate second booster dose to the most vulnerable would “provide only limited additional benefit against severe disease at this time.”

According to data compiled by the UK Health Security Agency, for people over 65, protection against hospitalisation remains at about 90 percent three months after the third dose.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and the lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, said last month that the symptoms of the Omicron variant “feel much more like the common cold.”
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, also added on Dec. 28 that COVID-19 will become “just another cause of the common cold.”
Lily Zhou contributed to this report.