National Clinical Director Jason Leitch told the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 committee that a booster vaccine programme against coronavirus would be likely to begin this winter.
It is likely that a booster would be slightly modified to take into account new variants of the virus as it mutates. There have already been concerns raised that some mutations, such as that seen in Brazil, could already escape some of the immunity provided by the vaccine or previous covid infection.
He said: “Most of the smart immunologists, the mainstream view, seems to be that in light of the new variants and in light of the length of time immunity seems to last, we will need a booster vaccine at some point in the next 12 months.
"For some people that may be with the flu vaccine and we will need to do trials to make sure you can give those two things at the same time. We may even, some drug companies may even combine the vaccine into one vial and therefore make it logistically much more straightforward for us.”
He said trials would also be considered as to whether boosters manufactured by a different vaccine company could be given to someone who had had another type of original vaccine.
He added: “My best bet is that leading into winter 2021, we will probably be on some kind of booster vaccination programme. Maybe for the vulnerable, maybe for the whole population.”