The vice chairman of the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) said delaying a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine could provide greater protection in the long term.
Professor Anthony Harnden said, “We have carefully examined the data from the Pfizer study and have come to the conclusion that there is no real evidence that a second dose will give you much longer and better protection.
“We think you should have a second dose, but we think it may be delayed.”
Speaking to Sophie Ridge from Sky Am Sonntag, Prof. Harnden cited data from a study on the Moderna vaccine, which uses technology similar to the Pfizer vaccine. Two months after receiving a dose, 1,000 people showed 90% immunity.
He added, “If you look at the AstraZeneca data – which I accept as a different technology – the longer you leave the second dose, the more protected you may be.
“Hopefully this strategy will not only result in more people being vaccinated and vulnerable elderly people protected and thousands and thousands of lives saved, but ultimately, the entire population will be protected.”
Prof. Harnden said JCVI is studying data from Israel suggesting that immunity could be as low as 33% after an initial dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
He said: “The Israeli data are preliminary, they are PCR tests which of course are both asymptomatic and symptomatic cases.
“They haven’t followed up for over three weeks and the statistical methods they used are not clear.
“We’re going to look at this in detail, but for now our clear direction is that the delayed second dose strategy will save many lives at the national level.”
He predicted that hospital stays and deaths would drop sharply a few weeks after the first four priority groups were offered the first dose of the vaccine.
“I am confident that the government has received enough vaccines and that manufacturers can keep up with orders, then we will see good supplies.”