Mass Covid testing and vaccination should be ended for all but the most vulnerable after the booster campaign has been completed, the former chairman of Britain’s vaccine taskforce has said.
Dr Clive Dix has called for an overhaul of the current Government strategy in the coming months, claiming the impact of cellular immunity on fighting the virus may have been downplayed.
Covid should instead be treated like flu or a heavy cold among younger people who have been fully jabbed, the former vaccines tsar said.
He said in most cases two doses of the jab would “probably” protect against severe disease, but added it would be best to boost the entire population.
“It’s pointless trying to stop infection with it which is sort of what mass vaccination is all about, because it’s not doing it. We’re seeing a lot of infection,” Dr Dix said.
“I’m not saying we stop the current booster campaign, I’m saying once that is over. The most important thing now is to find the people who haven’t been vaccinated and make sure they get vaccinated.”
He acknowledged the stance was “controversial”, but said analysis of the impact of the virus at a “clinical level” should be favoured over mass testing.
“I think we need to get to the point where if we have a young person who gets Covid, having been vaccinated, we know they’ve got levels of protection, but just like if they’ve got very bad cold or flu, they stay at home… and when they get better they go back to work.”
The former health chief also told The Observer that the Government should urgently back research into how effective jabs had been at producing “memory B- and T-cell immunity,” which helps the body to recognise Covid.
His remarks echoed the latest findings of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has ruled that four doses are not currently needed.
The JCVI said on Friday that most older people who had received third doses were still well-protected against Omicron three months after the booster campaign began.
It comes after a new study revealed that white blood cells are capable of mounting an immune response against the Omicron variant of Covid.
Due to Omicron having a higher number of mutations than other Covid variants, it can sometimes slip past the antibodies created by vaccination or infection.
However, if the virus does enter the body, T-cells will attack, according to research from the University of Melbourne and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
A further 141,472 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Sunday, the Government said.
The Government also said a further 97 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 150,154.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.