Doctors accuse ministers of botching Covid-19 vaccine strategy over second doses

Doctors have issued a warning to ministers and health officials over second doses of coronavirus vaccine.

They say patients given their first dose have not received an assurance that all will get a second jab of the same vaccine after 12 weeks and that it is ‘completely unacceptable’ to ignore the need for one.

Scientists advising the Government decided that first jabs should be prioritised, to provide protection to greater numbers, and that patients should wait up to 12 weeks for their second dose instead of three.

Doctors have warned the government over the proposed 12-week waiting time for the second dose of the vaccine

Doctors have warned the government over the proposed 12-week waiting time for the second dose of the vaccine

The Doctors’ Association UK, which represents front-line doctors, said a key concern is ‘the lack of assurance that all patients will receive a second dose at 12 weeks, the same type [of vaccine] as the first’. 

They added: ‘We must be clear that it is completely unacceptable to ignore the need for a second vaccination. 

‘All studies confirm the need for this to provide reliable and lasting immunity.’

The association’s issued its warning in a letter to officials including Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens.

Dr Kaveri Jalundhwala, a GP trainee and association committee member, said: ‘We, in particular, were concerned about the possibility of insufficient supply in the future meaning that some people might not get their second dose, or that it might be of a different vaccine leading to an unproven mixing of vaccines. 

‘This, in our view, is immoral, unevidenced and unacceptable. We must not compromise our route out of the pandemic.’

The growing controversy over the timing of second doses follows reports from Israel that the first jab of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may offer relatively low levels of protection.

The Clalit Health Fund recorded only a 33 per cent fall in the percentage testing positive from 14 days after their first dose, compared with unvaccinated people. It is not clear how that figure was worked out. 

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