New real-world study data has found that protection against COVID-19 is ‘waning’ in individuals who have received two vaccine doses.

The ZOE COVID Study app assessed data on positive COVID-19 PCR test results between May and July 2021, with over a million people included having had two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccines.

Researchers found that protection following two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab fell from 88% at one month to 74% at five to six months. A similar decrease was observed for those vaccinated with the AZ vaccine, with protection dropping from 77% to 67% within the same timeframe.

"Waning protection is to be expected and is not a reason to not get vaccinated. Vaccines still provide high levels of protection for the majority of the population, especially against the Delta variant, so we still need as many people as possible to get fully vaccinated,” said professor Tim Spector, lead investigator on the ZOE COVID Study app.

Interim advice issued in June by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) outlined that any potential COVID-19 booster programme should be offered in two stages from September.

Under this proposal, the most at risk from serious disease would be the first to be offered the booster jabs, including care home residents, those over the age of 70 years old, frontline health and social care workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and immunosuppressed adults.

Currently, the JCVI is reviewing ‘emerging scientific data’ before making its final recommendations for the booster COVID-19 vaccination programme.