Health

Give people just ONE dose of Covid vaccine to protect more Brits, say experts


BRITS receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine should get just one dose so more people can be protected, experts have claimed.

The jabs require two doses per patient, with a 21 to 28 day gap between doses – two vaccines are required to reach 95 per cent efficacy.

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Experts have urged the government to reconsider giving two doses of the Pfizer jab

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Experts have urged the government to reconsider giving two doses of the Pfizer jabCredit: Mercury Press

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the government to rethink its vaccination programme and said it must be “altered and radically accelerated”.

He said while the Pfizer vaccine is a two dose jab, the first dose still provides “substantial immunity” at 91 per cent efficacy.

Writing in The Independent he said: “We should consider using all the available doses in January as first doses, that is, not keeping back half for second doses.

“Then, as more production is rolled out, we will have enough for the second dose. Thirty million Johnson and Johnson vaccines – which is a one-dose vaccine – should also be with us by end of January.

“We should aim to use them all in February.”

He added that front line health staff and the most vulnerable should continue to be prioritised, but said that this shouldn’t “hold up vaccinating other people”.

TWICE THE PROTECTION

His comments were this morning echoed by Professor David Salisbury, who had previously headed up the Department of Health’s immunisation programme.

Around half of all hospitals across the UK and two thirds of GPs have still not yet received any deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine.

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Prof Salisbury said that people should be given just one dose, and that a similar format had previously been followed with the flu vaccine.

He said that on previous occasions when there had been just a finite amount of flu jabs for children, it was clear that if each child was given one dose then twice as many would be protected.

Experts have previously stated that two doses of the vaccine were needed but Prof Salisbury highlighted a recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Prof Salisbury said: “You give one dose and you get 91 per cent protection, you give two doses and you get 95 per cent – so you are only gaining 4 per cent for giving the second dose.

“With the current circumstances I would strongly urge that you should use as many first doses as you possibly can for risk groups and only after you’ve done all of that come back with second doses.”

He added that the same sort of decision could not be made regarding the AstraZeneca jab – which makers this week said would protect against the new strain of the virus.

Prof Salisbury said the efficacy rate of one dose of the AstraZeneca jab is just 62 per cent.

CONCERNING NEW STRAIN

He added: “That’s a much harder call. I would use my Pfizer vaccine much more aggressively so I vaccinated as many people as I would with one dose and as fast as I had supplies of it.

“I think in the current circumstancing it’s an important thing to think carefully about.”

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He said the new strain of the virus “is concerning” and said it should be even more reason for the government to spread the vaccine programme out by giving people just one dose.

In just a few days time, those who received the first dose of the vaccine will be coming forward to have the next shot administered.

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Prof Salisbury said that if he was in charge he would be telling the over-90s that “more lives can be saved if they don’t have the second dose”.

He added: “If you have to go down that route the cost is minuscule compared with the cost of holding doses for the second time round.”

The comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out prioritising the South of England for Covid jabs.

More than half a million Brits have received the jab.

Asked at a press conference this week about whether the vaccine would be made more readily available, Boris Johson said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is currently sticking to its priority list for those most at risk of contracting and dying from the list.

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The Prime Minister went on to say: “We want to work with our colleagues, with our friends around the world, as we have from the beginning, to develop new treatments, to develop new vaccines, as we have.”

The Prime Minister said the “vast bulk of the doses at the moment” are going to the over-80s and clinically vulnerable, and highlighted that the UK has been the first country to distribute a vaccine.

He added: “I find that a reason for hope and for confidence.”

More than 500,000 Brits have been vaccinated against Covid as NHS races to protect nation





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