Many have seen the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccination as a ray of hope going into the new year. However, the UK Government may be suggesting the use of practices that make the vaccine less effective.
The Doctor’s Association in the UK has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, outlining the dangers of not giving a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine within the advised 21 days.
On top of addressing their own concerns, the Doctor’s Association has also included a statement from Pfizer that advises against the government’s current plans.
The statement outlines the money that was spent on the vaccine, before detailing the strains and risks that GPs face ‘both clinically and financially’ by the government’s actions.
Further in the letter, the Doctor’s Association went on to note that when signing the contract to administer the vaccine, the NHSE held the right to change how quickly doses were distributed. This is the focus of the letter, as it notes that the change from a three-week wait for a second vaccination to twelve weeks runs contrary to the recommendations of the vaccine creators.
A statement by Pfizer/BioNTech follows, and it warns against the actions of the UK Government. Firstly it notes that the ‘safety and efficiency of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules’, before detailing the possible impact of the government’s plans.
The letter outlines that uptake may be slower, as people will want to receive their doses properly. It also notes that those who only have the first stage of the vaccination are only 52.4% protected.
The fact that no data is supporting the decision of the government has been labelled ‘difficult to defend’, while making a point of the new stresses on those who need to rebook appointments and the impact it will have on GPs.
A changing stance, that runs contrary to that of health experts, has led to confusion about what vaccines to take. As a result, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, has had to warn of mixing vaccines.
The statement from the Doctor’s Association says the government’s move is ‘not ‘following the science’ and it is an untested strategy’. The statement said the government was sending out mixed messages, adding, ‘the government should reassess the decisions around imposing a further national lockdown and keeping schools closed rather than pursuing untested vaccination strategies’.
It is evident that the change in the way the vaccine is distributed is causing confusion. Not only that, but according to the Doctor’s Association, it could have a negative impact on how the country overcomes the global pandemic.
With all this in mind, many will hope that the government outlines its position with data or follows the guidance of those who have developed the vaccine with specific parameters for its use.
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