The UK gives a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for up to 12 weeks after the first, but the WHO recommends a shorter interval.
A large group of British doctors said the UK should ‘urgently review’ its decision to give people a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for up to 12 weeks after the first, rather than the shorter gap recommended by the manufacturer and the World Health Organization.
The UK, which is experiencing Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, has adopted the policy to quickly give as many people as possible the first dose of the vaccine.
So far, nearly 5.5 million people have been injected with either a vaccine made by US drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, or a vaccine developed by Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
AstraZeneca said he believed the first dose of his vaccine offered protection after 12 weeks, but Pfizer says he has not tested the effectiveness of his jab after such a long hiatus.
The British Medical Association (BMA) on Saturday urged England’s medical director Chris Whitty to “urgently review the UK’s current position on second doses after 12 weeks”.
In a statement, the BMA said there was “growing concern from the medical profession over the delay of the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with the UK strategy increasingly isolated from many other countries. “.
“No other nation has adopted the UK’s approach,” Chaand Nagpaul, chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA board, told the BBC.
He said the WHO had recommended that the second Pfizer vaccine could be given up to six weeks after the first, but only “in exceptional circumstances.”
“I understand the compromise and the rationale, but if it was the right thing to do, we would see other nations follow suit,” Nagpaul said.
Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, defended the decision as “a reasonable scientific balance based on both the offer and the protection of most people”.
Doctors’ concerns emerged a day after government medical advisers said there was evidence that a new variant of the virus first identified in south-east England carried a greater risk. of deaths than the original strain.
Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Vallance said Friday “That there is evidence that there is an increased risk for those with the new variant,” which is also more transmissible than the original virus.
He said the new strain could be around 30% more deadly, but stressed that “the evidence is not yet strong” and more research is needed.
Research by British scientists advising the government said that while initial analyzes suggest the strain does not cause more serious illness, several more recent ones suggest it could.
However, the number of deaths is relatively low and death rates are affected by many factors, including the care patients receive, their age and health, beyond COVID-19.
The UK has recorded 97,517 deaths among those who tested positive, the highest number of confirmed viruses in Europe.
The country is on lockdown to try to slow the latest wave of the virus, and the government says the end of restrictions won’t come soon.
Pubs, restaurants, gymnasiums, entertainment venues and many shops are closed and people are required to largely stay at home.