Doctors call for gap between Pfizer vaccine doses to be reduced
The British Medical Association say it is "difficult to justify" the 12-week gap between doses
England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty is under pressure from senior doctors to reduce the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
The government recently decided to extend the maximum wait between each dose from three weeks to 12, with Prof Whitty explaining this would allow a larger number of people across the country to get the first vaccination more quickly.
The British Medical Association have, however, sent a letter to Prof Whitty, calling for an urgent review of this approach and for the gap to be cut.
The World Health Organization recommended a gap of four weeks between doses of the vaccine, adding that extending this period of time to six weeks should only happen in exceptional circumstances. The BBC report that while unpublished data from the government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation suggests the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine remains effective with a 12-week gap between doses, Pfizer have only tested their vaccine with a three-week gap.
Although the Department of Health and Social Care insists they conducted an in-depth review of the data available before extending the maximum gap between doses of both vaccines, the BMA have still highlighted their concern.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, chair of the BMA, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said that while they shared the government's urgency to roll out the vaccine to as many people as possible, he was concerned that the UK had opted to take a "unique" approach.
"Our concern is that the UK's position is unique internationally," he said. "The World Health Organization has analysed through its experts the delay of the second dose and what they have said is that they recommend the dose being given according to the manufacturer's recommendation of three to four weeks and in exceptional circumstances, to delay that to up to 42 days."
He later added: "No other nation has adopted the UK's approach. We think the flexibility the WHO has offered - to 42 days - is being stretched far too much in going from six weeks right through to 12 weeks... What we are saying is that we should be following the guidance that is being adopted by the WHO and follow it to be able to maximise the protection of the population but also healthcare staff."
#BBCBreakfast - Doctors are calling for an urgent review into how long people are waiting for the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Dr. Chaand Nagpaul(chair BMA) - "No other nation has adopted the UK's approach.. we should be following the guidance that's being adopted by the WHO" pic.twitter.com/zHBEhWtRbF
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) January 23, 2021