Health chief stresses importance of booster vaccine

Birmingham’s Director of Public Health Dr Justin Varney said Covid case rates are currently stable

<p>Birmingham’s Director of Public Health Dr Justin Varney and leader of the council Cllr Ian Ward</p>

Birmingham’s Director of Public Health Dr Justin Varney and leader of the council Cllr Ian Ward

Birmingham’s health chief has stressed the importance of booster vaccines in the fight against Covid, as the new Omicron variant threatens to sweep across the country.

And he says that the NHS is working hard to meet the growing demand for the booster, with only a three month waiting period now as opposed to the previous six months.

Speaking at the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting, Birmingham’s Director of Public Health Dr Justin Varney revealed that case rates in the city are relatively stable at the moment, with no huge increases or decreases in the number of hospital admissions.

However he also warned that the new variant is ‘more infectious’, adding that a third Covid jab has become more important in the fight against the Omicron variant than the Delta variant.

What did Dr Justin Varney say in his own words?

“In terms of policy variation that we’ve seen, the arrival of a new variant is complex,” he said.

“This is a new variation of the virus. What we know at this stage is that it is more infectious, we do not know yet whether it is more dangerous.

“We really don’t know, because the population in Africa where the variant is predominant, or emerging most, have a very very different healthcare system, and a much younger population.

“So it’s quite hard to judge what this variant means for us. Their vaccination profile is also different – what is emerging is the sense that the vaccines do work, and that the booster is more important than we thought it was against Delta.

“So what the booster is doing is boosting the number of antibodies and that overwhelms the variant.

“So that’s why there’s been some shifts this week in the national policy on boosters, it’s been announced that the booster is now eligible for all adults, and the date and time frame from your last dose to your booster have been reduced from six months to three months.

“The NHS is working hard to increase capacity as fast as possible, alongside the vaccine supply chain being boosted to meet demand. So there’s a lot of work going on around that.”

Has there been any spikes in case rates?

Dr Varney also added that, while case rates are relatively steady on the whole, there had been a spike in unvaccinated groups such as those under the age of 15.

And he warned that immuno-supressed people, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, would most likely need a fourth jab in the future to help fight off the virus.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.