On Wednesday, December 30, 2020, the British government announced a shift in its coronavirus vaccine rollout that set it apart from the rest of the world.
In a statement, the government said its priority would be to give the first vaccine dose to as many people as it can, rather than focusing on giving people the required two doses in as short a time as possible, to give the maximum number of people some protection from the virus.
However, according to Axios, Pfizer warned Thursday that there’s “no data” to show that a single dose of its vaccine will give people protection after 21 days.
The drugmaker said that two doses of its vaccine—separated by three weeks—is the only schedule proven to be 95 percent effective in its trials.
The British government said that it will only guarantee people will receive their second dose within 12 weeks of their first, insisting that it “completes the course and is important for longer-term protection.”
The Full Statement:
“The government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use. This follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will also publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive this vaccine.
The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan and decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes. It has already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of patients with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its rollout will continue. Now the NHS will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Throughout this global pandemic, we have always been guided by the latest scientific advice. Having studied evidence on both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines, the JCVI has advised the priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.
Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.
From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups. With 2 vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at the highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation.
The JCVI’s independent advice is that this approach will maximise the benefits of both vaccines. It will ensure that more at-risk people are able to get meaningful protection from a vaccine in the coming weeks and months, reducing deaths and starting to ease pressure on our NHS.
To aid the success of the vaccination programme, it is vital everyone continues to play their part, abides by the restrictions in their area and remembers hands, face, space so we can suppress this virus and allow the NHS to do its work without being overwhelmed.