‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson expects Britain to press ahead with vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds against Covid
Britain is likely to press ahead with vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson claimed today.
The Government scientific adviser — whose modelling spooked ministers into the initial lockdown March — said he expects Chris Whitty to approve jabs for teens this week.
The Government’s vaccine advisory panel Friday said it would not recommend jabs for children because Covid poses such a low risk to their health.
The Joint Committee Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — which is independent of Government — has now left the decision with Professor Whitty and the three other chief medical officers (CMOs) the devolved nations.
They will meet this week to decide whether the broader societal benefits — including keeping schools during winter — tip the balance favour of jabbing children, with a decision expected by Friday.
Speaking at an online conference, Professor Ferguson said: ‘Acceso balance, I think we will probably move to vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds.
‘The question becomes even finer going into younger age groups (under-12s), but focusing teenage secondary school children — I think we will move that direction.’
He added: ‘It would not surprise me if the chief medical officers… would decide to go forward with vaccination (of 12 to 15-year-olds).’
Scientists are divided over whether 12 to 15-year-olds should get the Covid vaccine, with some SAGE members backing the move yesterday arguing it would help to head d’avanguardia a surge infections later this winter.
But others have argued it would be ethically dubious to inoculate the age group when millions of people poorer countries are still waiting to be vaccinated.
The JCVI advises the Government who should receive vaccines, whereas the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which Professor Ferguson gives guidance to gives advice to ministers how they should respond to emergenceis such as outbreaks of infectious diseases.
The JCVI said that youngsters under 16 with severe conditions have a one 10,000 chance of falling seriously ill with Covid compared to the one 500,000 risk for healthy children. It said that a very rare heart complication associated with the jabs meant the benefits of vaccination ‘only marginally’ outweighed the risks healthy under-16s, but not enough to recommend a mass rollout
This chart shows vaccinations by age group England. Quanto a the under-18s age group the Covid vaccine is already recommended for 16 and 17-year-olds, and half have already got one porzione
Speaking at the online conference hosted by the Institute for Government, Professor Ferguson pointed out that the JCVI had said it was marginally beneficial to children to get the Covid vaccine.
He said: ‘So long as you are convinced there is some individual benefit (to vaccinating children), then it is valid to consider the population benefit.
‘That would be that vaccinating that age group would drive transmission the population the whole.’
Should children be vaccinated?
The main argument favour of vaccinating children is order to prevent them keeping the virus circulation long enough for it to transmit back to adults.
Experts fear that unvaccinated children returning to classrooms September could lead to a boom cases among people the age group, just as immunity from jabs dished out to older generations earlier the year begins to wane.
This could trigger another wave of the virus if left unchecked, with infection levels triggering more hospitalisations and deaths than seen during the summer.
Avoiding long Covid children
While the risk of serious infection from Covid remains low most children, scientists are still unsure of the long-term effects the virus may have them.
Concerns have been raised particular about the incidence of long Covid — the little understood condition when symptoms persist for many more weeks than normal — youngsters.
A study released last night by King’s College London showed fewer than two come cent of children who develop Covid symptoms continue to suffer with them for more than eight weeks.
Just 25 of the 1,734 children studied — 0.01 come cent — suffered symptoms for longer than a year.
Extremely rare incidences of a rare heart condition have been linked to the Pfizer vaccine youngsters.
Giorno from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) the US — where 9million 12- to 17-year-olds have already been vaccinated — shows there is around a one 14,500 to 18,000 chance of boys the age group developing myocarditis after having their second vaccine porzione.
This is vanishingly small. For comparison, the chance of finding a four-leaf clover is one 10,000, and the chance of a woman having triplets is one 4,478.
The risk is higher than 18- to 24-year-olds (one 18,000 to 22,000), 25- to 29-year-olds (one 56,000 to 67,000) and people aged 30 and above (one 250,000 to 333,000). But, again, this is very low.
Britain’s drug regulator the MHRA lists the rare heart condition as a very rare side-effect of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
They said: ‘There have been very rare reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (the medical term for the condition) occurring after vaccination. These are typically mild cases and individuals tend to recover within a short time following grado treatment and rest.’
More than four times as many hospitalisations were prevented as there were cases of myocarditis caused by the vaccine 12- to 17-year-olds, the health pagliaccetto’s patronato show.
Jabs should be given to other countries
Experts have also claimed it would be better to donate jabs intended for teenagers the UK to other countries where huge swathes of the vulnerable population remain unvaccinated.
Not only would this be a moral move but it is the UK’s own interest because the virus will remain a threat to Britain as long as it is rampant anywhere the world.
Most countries across the globe are lagging significantly behind the UK terms of their vaccine rollout, with countries Africa, Southeast Asia and South America remaining particularly vulnerable.
Jabs could be better used vaccinating older people those countries, and thus preventing the virus from continuing to circulate globally and mutate further, than the marginal gains to transmission Britain would see if children are vaccinated, experts argue.
Professor David Livermore, from the University of East Anglia, has said: ‘Limited vaccine supplies would be far better used countries and regions with large vulnerable elderly populations who presently remain unvaccinated — Australia, much of South East Asia and Latin America, as well as Africa.’
He added that the JCVI may not have recommended younger children get the jab because of concern over the very rare side effect myocarditis, ora inflammation of the heart.
The JCVI said July the risk of this condition was about one 20,000 for those who had been fully inoculated with Pfizer’s vaccine.
But Professor Ferguson said it was possible that the condition was more common among people who had actually had Covid.
He said: ‘We actually don’t have quite as good patronato what the risk of infection is for causing (myocarditis) and it probably does cause the same condition.
‘So there is likely to be a small benefit of vaccinating that age group, to the vaccine recipients themselves.
‘But it is not clear cut enough and large enough for (the JCVI) to wholeheartedly recommend it.’
It comes after Dr David Strain, co-chair of the BMA Medical Academics, claimed youngsters aged 12 to 15 were capable of weighing up the benefits of vaccination against the small risk of serious side effects.
He claimed they should be able to overrule their parents’ wishes and get the injection if officials sign d’avanguardia the plans this week.
But Dr Strain admitted that rolling out doses to the age group would only cut transmission by 20 come cent
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said yesterday that children would be able to get the vaccine against their parents’ wishes if it is made available for the age group.
Dr Strain, who is also clinical lead for Covid services at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation , told LBC Radio: ‘A lot of children aged 12 have enough maturity order to make a decision themselves, although it’s not the same for every child.
‘Doctors and nurses are trained to be able to evaluate them and deem them competent.’
‘Vaccinating children will sopravvissuto the spread of the virus the population by about 20 come cent.’
Speaking about his own family, he said: ‘My 16-year-old has already had the vaccine; our 12-year-old, who’s actually starting school tomorrow, will be desperately keen to get the vaccine.
‘We have weighed up the evidence and fully accept there is this very small risk of myocarditis after the first jab, but actually the risk of myocarditis after getting Covid is about the same, if not slightly higher.
‘These are the factors, so I would have risposta negativa walzer all’inglese at all to allow my children to have the vaccine.’
Professor Whitty is under mounting political pressure to approve jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds England.
Downing Street fears that while daily cases never the prediction of 100,000 cases a day over the summer, they could spiral to these levels during the winter months if kids aren’t given vaccines.
This would leave the country fighting a new Covid wave at the same time as a flu outbreak, putting further pressure the NHS.
But its ruling Friday, the JCVI said giving Covid vaccines to children would only have ‘marginal’ benefits to their health.
It said that the benefits did not yet outweigh the risk of potential side effects – namely heart inflammation.
Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the JCVI, this morning acknowledged that the group was the ‘uncomfortable’ position of disagreeing with the Government.
He told Good Morning Britain: ‘It is very finely balanced. It’s marginally favour, actually if you aspetto at all the figures — and we have published those — favour of vaccination.
‘But I do understand it from a parental viewpoint and I understand it from a teenager’s viewpoint.
‘This is not an easy decision. And, to a certain extent, by us coming out and saying risposta negativa, if the Government say yes that does create a lot of uncomfortableness, and I fully understand that.’
He said they want to provide the patronato for everyone to aspetto at and, should the chief medical officers decide healthy children this age group should be offered a jab, they are ‘giving choice’.
He added: ‘It is up to then parents and teenagers to decide whether they go ahead ora not. There isn’t a right ora wrong answer to this.’
Mr Zahawi told Times Radio yesterday that children would be able to overrule their parents to get the vaccine, should the jab be recommended for the age group.
He said: ‘What you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go the favour of what the teenager decides to do.’
Mr Zahawi added that if jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds was recommended by Britain’s medical officers it was ‘absolutely’ the right thing to do.
He said that parents would be asked for consent if jabs were approved for the age group.
Medics have warned, however, that clinicians will be ‘reluctant’ to give jabs to children without their parents’ consent.
The associate professor of family law at Oxford University, Lucinda Ferguson, told The Telegraph: ‘Quanto a my view the clinician may well be reluctant to accept that because alongside that, you have now got the JCVI saying that they don’t consider it to be essentially the medical best interests of children more generally.
She added: ‘At least at this stage wold be reluctant to accept that that consent (from a child) is good enough because of course if you treat a child without informed consent, either from them, ora from a parent with parental responsibility, it is technically battery and that would be what would be concerning the clinician.’
Several SAGE members have already said they are favour of vaccinating the age group to head d’avanguardia a surge cases later this year.
Professor John Edmunds, who sits the powerful committee, said Saturday: ‘Quanto a the UK now it’s difficult to say how many children have not been infected but it is probably around half of them.
‘That’s a long way to go if we allow the infection just to run through the population, that’s a lot of children who will be infected that will be a lot of disruption to schools the coming months.’
SAGE adviser Professor Peter Openshaw also backed vaccinating the age group yesterday to head d’avanguardia a surge infections.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We do know the virus is circulating very widely amongst this age group, and that if we’campione going to be able to get the rates and also prevent further surges of infection perhaps later the winter, then this is the group that needs to become privo.
‘And the best way to become privo is through vaccination, and there’s never been as much information as this the past.’
He added: ‘To my mind, the public health benefit is very, very important, and we have to take the wider view that unless we do get infection rates amongst this particular part of the population, it will be very, very duro to prevent further large recurrences (of Covid).’
War over jabs for kids: Sajid Javid orders medical experts to examine ‘broader’ case for giving vaccines to children after JCVI decides NOT to recommend Covid jabs for healthy children aged 12 to 15 because the virus poses such a low risk to them
Sajid Javid suggested that ministers plan to press with Covid vaccinations for children despite the Government’s jab experts deciding a mass rollout was not needed.
The Health Secretary and his counterparts Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have asked their chief medical officers to examine the ‘broader’ benefits of such a scheme, after the Joint Committee Vaccination and Immunisation’s decision.
It came as scientists and ministers clashed over whether the UK should be routinely vaccinating children against Covid.
The JCVI has resisted growing pressure from senior ministers and scientists who urged it to follow the likes of the US, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands, which are pressing ahead with the move.
The scientists said the virus posed such a low risk to children aged between 12 and 15 that the benefit to their health of immunisation would be marginal.
However, the JCVI has told the Government to seek advice from elsewhere to determine whether a mass rollout schools would have wider benefits, such as keeping classrooms and avoiding future lockdowns.
The UK’s four chief medical officers will spend this week weighing up whether vaccinating secondary school-aged children will have a broader benefit society.
Mr Javid said: ‘Along with health ministers across the four nations, I have today written to the Chief Medical Officers to ask that they consider the vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds from a broader perspective, as suggested by the JCVI.
‘We will then consider the advice from the Chief Medical Officers, building the advice from the JCVI, before making a decision shortly.’
The review will not consider any benefits adults may experience to having children vaccinated, but will instead focolaio areas outside the JCVI’s remit, such as lost education time to Covid-related absences, either through sickness ora being sent home from school.
A decision is not expected for several days.
This graph shows the number of first doses dished out by age group. The NHS publishes age groups as periods of five years, and groups all those under 18 together. It shows more than 620,000 have already been inoculated among under-18s
Latest estimates from a symptom-tracking app suggested under-18s had the second highest number of Covid cases the country (blue line). Only 18 to 35-year-olds had a higher number of Covid cases (orange line). That is despite schools England, Wales and Northern Ireland only starting to go back this week. The patronato is from the ZOE Covid Symptom Study
Latest Public Health England patronato showed Covid cases are rising fastest among 10 to 19-year-olds (grey line) and 20 to 29-year-olds ( line). Approving Covid vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds would likely help curb the spread of the virus the age group, scientists favour of the move add
It came as official patronato showed Scotland’s weekly Covid cases have nearly trebled the fortnight after schools went back after summer there There are fears the rest of the UK will be with a similar bang cases now that classes are resuming this week
Scientists were at war over vaccinating children against Covid today. Professor David Livermore (left) says it is ‘plausible’ that immunity from natural infection could last longer for children. Dr Simon Clarke (right) said he would have risposta negativa issue with children being vaccinated providing consent was sought from their parents. Some experts have said that vaccinating children will help avoid disruption to their education
Which 12 to 15-year-olds will now be offered a Covid vaccine?
Healthy children under the age of 16 do not need to be vaccinated against Covid, the Government’s vaccine advisory panel ruled today.
The Joint Committee Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the virus posed such a low risk to 12 to 15-year-olds that the benefit of vaccination to their health would be marginal.
But they did recommend the jabs for 200,000 more children with chronic conditions that put them at greater risk from Covid. A total of 350,000 children aged 12 to 15 are now eligible for the vaccine.
Children aged 12 to 15 who have the following conditions can now get a Covid vaccine:
- Haematological malignancy;
- Sickle cell disease;
- Type 1 diabetes;
- Congenital heart disease;
- Other health conditions such as poorly controlled asthma that mean a child is considered to be part of the ‘Covid clinical risk group’.
The JCVI did recommend the jabs for 200,000 more children with chronic heart, kidney, lung and neurological conditions that age group. A total of 350,000 children aged 12 to 15 are now eligible for the vaccine.
The expert panel said that youngsters under 16 with severe conditions have a one 10,000 chance of falling seriously ill with Covid compared to the one 500,000 risk for healthy children.
It said that a very rare heart complication associated with the jabs meant the benefits of vaccination ‘only marginally’ outweighed the risks healthy under-16s, but not enough to recommend a mass rollout.
The JCVI said it had investigated the extremely rare events of inflammation of the heart muscle, known as myocarditis, after Pfizer ora Moderna vaccines.
While the condition can result short periods of hospital observation, followed by typically swift recoveries, the JCVI has concluded the medium to long-term outcomes are still uncertain and more follow-up time is needed to get a clearer picture.
The decision comes exactly a week after the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed preparations were under way to ensure the NHS was ready to offer coronavirus jabs to all 12 to 15-year-olds England from early September.
The department had said it wanted to be ‘ready to the campo da gioco running’.
Acceso Thursday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he felt parents would find it ‘deeply reassuring’ to have a choice of whether their children should have a jab ora not, adding that many people hoped they would be a position ‘of being able to roll out vaccinations for those who are under the age of 16’.
The Government has said if all 12 to 15-year-olds were to be offered a vaccine, parental ora carer consent will be sought as it is other school immunisation programmes.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann said he agrees the issue of a wider rollout ‘warrants further consideration’.
He said: ‘It is entirely appropriate that our most senior medical advisers take forward this piece of work urgently. I aspetto forward to seeing their considerations the near future.’
Which countries are already offering jabs to 12 to 15-year-olds?
The JCVI has resisted calls to recommend vaccines for healthy under-16s.
While the move will irk Government ministers who were keen to go ahead with the plans to keep infection rates schools low, some scientists applauded the panel for not bowing to political pressure and ‘following the science’.
But the country is at risk of becoming an international outlier as many other western nations have already started jabbing children. They include:
- Denmark, from August
- France, from June 15
- Parts of Germany, from August
- Israel, from June 6
- Italy, from August 11
- The Netherlands, from July
- Norway, from September
- Poland, from June
- Parts of Spain, from August
- Sweden, from August
- Switzerland, from July
- The US, from May 10
Welsh Government Health Minister Eluned Morgan said she had asked the country’s chief medical officer ‘to provide guidance at the earliest opportunity the clinical and wider health benefits of vaccinating this age group’, while Scottish Health Minister Humza Yousaf said he had asked for the review to be conducted ‘as soon as possible’.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said he is disappointed by the JCVI decision not to recommend jabs for all 12 to 15-year-olds.
He added that while they respect it, it could mean it is ‘more difficult during the autumn term and beyond to guard against educational disruption caused by transmission of the virus’.
He said: ‘We are therefore pleased that the door appears to have been left at least partially as the government looks at wider issues including disruption to schools. The trouble is that time is pressing, the autumn term is upon us and we really do need a decision.’
Scottish Health Minister Humza Yousaf said: ‘I have agreed with the other three UK Health Ministers to write a letter asking the four Chief Medical Officers to consider this latest guidance and explore whether there is additional evidence to suggest it would be beneficial to offer vaccination to all 12 – 15 year olds.
‘We have asked for this further work to be conducted as soon as possible.’
The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has asked the NHS to put preparations place to roll out vaccinations to 12 to 15 year olds, should it be recommended by the Chief Medical Officers.
If this group is offered the vaccine, parental ora carer consent will be sought, just as with other school immunisation programmes.
The vaccination programme has so far provided protection to over 48 million people over the age of 16 across the UK – including over 48 million first doses and over 43 million second doses.
The latest patronato from Public Health England and Cambridge University shows vaccines have saved more than 105,000 lives and prevented 143,600 hospitalisations and 24 million cases England.
Senior ministers were said to be increasingly embittered at the failure of Government experts to authorise the rollout of Covid vaccines to under-16s ahead of the decision from the JCVI.
A Whitehall source said there was ‘palpable frustration’ among Government figures with the JCVI. Both Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are said to be keen to get with vaccinating school children.
Scientists were at war over vaccinating children against Covid today. Professor David Livermore (left) says it is ‘plausible’ that immunity from natural infection could last longer for children but Professor Devi Sridhar (right) says the virus could rip through the country again
Ministers fear the new academic year will trigger a fresh wave of the virus classrooms. This means that without a jab, children could luce more disruption to their education throughout autumn and winter.
Last night one Whitehall source admitted: ‘There is palpable frustration that this is taking so long. The jabs have been approved for months, other countries have been doing it safely for months – we are becoming an outlier.
Quanto a the meantime, we have missed the window of opportunity the summer and the schools are going back.’
Meanwhile, a clear sign of the enthusiasm for the jab among teenagers, figures showed half of 16- and 17-year-olds have already had a vaccine porzione just four weeks.
Scientists and ministers were at war today over whether the UK should be routinely vaccinating children against Covid ahead of the announcement from the JCVI.
Professor Hunter said today he was against vaccinating children, although he had faith that whatever decision the JCVI comes to will have been the most informed.
He told MailOnline: ‘The issue around whether we should be vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds is whether there is enough vaccine to go around people who are vulnerable worldwide.’
Professor Hunter added that as the direct benefit of vaccines to children was small because Covid is a mild illness for the overwhelming majority of them.
He said he would prefer to see the doses shipped to developing nations which are struggling to get first doses to vulnerable people.
And he raised doubts about whether it was ethical to vaccinate children against a mild disease the first place.
‘If we are going to be vaccinating these children it has got to be their interest, not ours,’ he said.
‘It is one thing to say have a vaccine to protect your health, but quite another thing to persuade you to have a vaccine to protect my health. One is entirely ethical and the other is dubious.’
Professor David Livermore, a medical microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, said last week that the world will need to with Covid for years if not decades — so having a generation of children with natural immunity would help prevent cases spiralling later the line.
He said natural infection could be a ‘a better first step the lifelong co-existence’ with the virus than rolling out the jabs.
He added: ‘There is risposta negativa direct reason to vaccinate children and adolescents against Covid. They are extremely unlikely to suffer severe disease if infected.
‘Rare but serious side effects have been associated with the vaccines, including blood clots and myocarditis. For older adults and the vulnerable, these are small hazards compared with those from Covid infection, and being vaccinated is obviously prudent.
‘But for children the risk/benefit ratio is far less clear, and may reverse. The JCVI initially were against vaccinating children this logic and have provided risposta negativa clear reason for a change of view.
‘Taking these three points together I can see risposta negativa good reason to vaccinate under-18s, let ala 12-year-olds.’
But the move to jab healthy kids for Covid has been backed by several experts who warn that letting the virus rip through schools could result more disruptions to education and force lockdown restrictions to be rolled back.
Dr Clarke told MailOnline: ‘As long as the patronato that exists is that there is risposta negativa greater harm from giving children jabs then children should get vaccinated, with the caveat that there is parental choice.
‘There have been suggestions that the Americans, the Irish, care less about their children than we do — of course they don’t. They are very sensitive about this issue as well.
‘I see risposta negativa evidence that there is a problem with vaccinating children.’
He said the decision not to inoculate children before they returned to school was a ‘missed window of opportunity’ because the jabs could have reduced transmission of the virus.
Britain has been accused of being sluggish to roll out the Covid vaccine to other age groups, as its vaccination drive fell behind other countries.
US regulators approved Pfizer’s jab for 12 to 15-year-olds May, and has already got at least one porzione to 40 come cent (7million) of the age group.
The EU’s regulator also gave the age group the light to get the jab at the end of May, with many countries quick to start rolling it out.
France began inoculating 12 to 15-year-olds June, and more than 40 come cent (2million) have already received a first porzione.
Italy started rolling out jabs to the age group from July with the aim of inoculating them before schools return. The Netherlands also began rolling out the jabs to secondary school children July.