Debate rages over 12-week gap between vaccine doses
London, Jan 23: Senior medics are at odds in the UK over the optimum gap between the two doses of vaccines being administered for protection against COVID-19.
The two vaccines currently being injected among the country’s priority groups, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca, both require a booster shot a few weeks later.
Initial advice for the second dose to be delivered within 21 days was modified by the UK government scientists to up to 12 weeks apart, with the aim of vaccinating larger numbers with at least one jab to inject some level of immediate protection.
The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) claims unpublished data suggest that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is still effective with doses 12 weeks apart. But American pharma major Pfizer has said it has tested its vaccine’s efficacy only when the two doses were given up to 21 days apart, creating some doubt over its efficacy with a larger time gap.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a gap of four weeks between doses, to be extended only in exceptional circumstances to six weeks.
Speaking alongside UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a 10 Downing Street briefing in London on Friday, England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty reiterated that increasing the gap between doses to a maximum of 12 weeks would allow “many more people to be vaccinated much more quickly”. (PTI)