Covid uptick may show need for re-formulated vaccine, says expert


A 30% increase in Covid-19 cases could show that there is a need to reformulate vaccines, according to a leading medical expert.

Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, said the latest figures, showing 2.3 million people have the illness, was a concern.

Asked what people could do to protect themselves, he told GB News: “Well, what we can do is keep our momentum up, which is protect the vulnerable people, protect key workers, protect essential workers, and all of them at the moment.

“They can only be protected one way properly, which is the vaccine at a higher level, I would say, ‘have we reached the time now, when we need to reformulate the vaccine that would be given out as boosters come autumn?’

“So, I’m veering towards, you know, do we need a reformulated vaccine.”

Speaking in an interview during Breakfast with Paul Hawkins and Anne Diamond on GB News, Dr Pankhania said people need to be watchful.

He said: “Why have we got this rise in the number of cases? Well, as normal activities have resumed, i.e. socialising, going out, meeting people, and on top of that we have a variant of Omicron.

“This is often termed as BA.4 and BA.5, so by variants, I would say it’s a slight change in shape.

“So with that slight change in shape, it finds it easier to infect people. And as it finds it easier to infect people, we have had this surge in the number of cases.”
He added: “Whilst our case numbers are rising, of course, they’re not at the 2200, 2021 peak levels and what we need to have is that watchfulness.
“As you asked should we be concerned, well, my answer is, yes, we need to be watchful, because with the rising number of cases, there’s always a lag period with hospital admissions and then there is a lag period with that, at the moment.
“What is happening is that whilst the case numbers have gone up, and hospitalizations have gone up, and also ICU numbers have gone up, in other words, people needing respiratory support.
“It’s not at the levels that we had in 2021. And why we are in a better place today is because the vaccines that we have been giving have been doing the protecting job of preventing severe disease.
“Obviously, it doesn’t prevent infections, but it does look like it prevents severe disease.”
Covid infections are rising again across the UK, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
An estimated 2.3 million people or one in 30 has the virus – a rise of 32% on the week before.
The rise is being driven by two new fast-spreading sub-variants of Omicron – called BA.4 and BA.5.
People can be infected even if they’ve had Covid before, but jabs are helping to protect against serious illness.
Health officials are urging anyone over 75 who has not had a vaccine or booster in the past six months, to get one.
In the week ending 24 June, the ONS estimates Covid rates were:
One in 30 in England – up from one in 40 the week before
One in 30 in Wales – up from one in 45
One in 25 in Northern Ireland – up from one in 30
One in 18 in Scotland – up from one in 20
Sarah Crofts, from the ONS, said: “Across the UK we’ve seen a continued increase of over half a million infections, likely caused by the growth of BA.4 and BA.5 variants.”
In its analysis of England, it found infections were going up in all regions and in all age groups.
In Scotland, which has had the highest Covid rates in the UK since the end of May, the rise in infections may be slowing slightly.