Coronavirus booster vaccines to be offered to over 50s in Autumn
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Since the outbreak of COVID-19 we are continuing to learn more about the disease. Although cases have significantly lowered compared to during the height of the pandemic, people are still becoming infected every day. Now a team has established a “simple” way to determine who could be most vulnerable to reinfection.
The finger-prick test, developed by biotech firm ImmunoServ Ltd in collaboration with Cardiff University researchers, measures the presence of immune T cells that can recognise SARS-CoV-2 – the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
As part of the research, more than 300 volunteers were recruited across the UK to assess the novel test.
It found that those with the largest T cell response to the virus were best protected from COVID-19 over the following three months, regardless of their levels of antibodies to the virus.
Therefore, it is believed the test will help determine who might need more focused interventions such as repeated booster vaccines.
Doctor Martin Scurr, lead author, said the study highlighted the potential for more accurate assessment of an individual’s immunity to Covid.
“Many individuals worry about their risk of contracting COVID-19, whether they have been previously vaccinated or not,” he said.
“Our test identified that it is the level of T cell response induced by prior vaccination or infection that is associated with the risk of that individual contracting COVID-19 in the months following the blood test.”
University professor and co-senior author of the work, Andrew Godkin, added: “Long-term immunity screening using such a test would allow us to monitor longevity of responses that prevent COVID-19 and identify the most vulnerable members of our society who may need earlier booster vaccinations.”
The test used a simple finger-prick blood sample collected at home and sent to a laboratory by post.
It comes as the UK is currently offering a second Covid booster jab to those most vulnerable, which for many would be their fourth COVID-19 vaccine since the start of the pandemic.
People eligible for the seasonal booster include those who are:
- Aged 65 or over
- Aged 5 and over and at high risk due to a health condition
- Aged 5 and over and at high risk because of a weakened immune system
- Aged 5 and over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- Aged 16 and over and a carer, either paid or unpaid
- Living or working in a care home for older people
- A frontline health and social care worker.
These can be booked online through the NHS website or people can use walk-in vaccine sites.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- A high temperature or shivering (chills)
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- An aching body
- A headache
- A sore throat
- A blocked or runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick or being sick.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 22.2 million reported cases of Covid in the UK.
And there have been more than 200,000 deaths where COVID-19 has been listed as a cause of death in the UK.
For some the symptoms of Covid don’t clear up after 12 weeks meaning they have long Covid or post-Covid syndrome.
Common signs of long Covid are:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of smell
- Muscle aches.
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