NDP: Accelerated booster shot program needed to proactively fight fifth wave

SASKATOON - Today, Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili called for an acceleration of the booster shot program in light of a new UK Health Security Agency study that shows low vaccine protection against the Omicron variant with two doses alone, but increased effectiveness with a third dose.

“Now is the time to create an Omicron plan and share that plan with the public. We need to be expanding eligibility to younger adults as soon as possible and lay out what steps are needed should Omicron start driving a fifth wave. We’re almost 2 years into this pandemic - this government needs to learn from their failed fourth wave response, be proactive and get this right,” said Meili. “Saskatchewan people were already at risk with protection waning from their COVID-19 vaccines. Now, as case numbers in other provinces start to climb, we need to be doing everything we can to get third doses into arms before it's too late."

A technical paper released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last week estimates that the Omicron variant will likely account for more than 50% of all COVID-19 infections in the UK by mid-December. The report also highlighted preliminary findings that two doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided much lower levels of protection than they did against the Delta variant. With a booster shot, however, vaccine effectiveness was found to be between 70-75%.

This follows additional reports from the UK that Omicron case rates are doubling every two to three days and a stern warning last night from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the variant poses a very significant threat announcing his plans to accelerate the UK’s booster availability to any UK resident over the age of 18 by the end of the month.  

“Our healthcare system is still recovering from the fourth wave. Surgeries and organ transplants are only just coming back online and healthcare workers are burnt out,” said Meili. “We’ve seen the consequences of not acting soon enough. We need real leadership before it’s too late.” 

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