Delaying people getting the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine is saving lives, a senior government vaccine adviser has said.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, said data from the vaccine rollout has shown “promising evidence” that justifies the delayed second dose approach.
The real-world data, which is due to be published in coming days, revealed that people who have been vaccinated are enjoying “high levels of protection from the first dose” which is reducing infections and saving lives, the Times reports.
It is expected to help Prime Minister Boris Johson and his advisers as they draw up plans to ease the national lockdown.
As of yesterday, more than 11 million people had been vaccinated in the UK and further data shows that infection rates over 80s has dramatically fallen in the last month.
The UK was criticised for delaying the second dose for 12 weeks, when, according to the World Health Organisation, the PfizerBiontech vaccine should only be delayed for up to six weeks.
But Professor Harden said getting more people vaccinated sooner is the priority so more are protected.
He said: “The Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the UK is nothing short of a triumph.”
“The government’s strategy to extend the interval between the two doses means we have been able to protect more
people and undoubtedly save more lives. We have seen promising evidence that people get high levels of protection from the first dose.”
The data also shows that the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine offers around 75 per cent protection against Covid and significantly reduces its spread after the first dose for up to three months.
However, Professor Harnden warned those vaccinated to continue to stick to the rules as cases are still worryingly high.
The UK is said to be on track to meeting the target of vaccinating all over-50s by May.
After that, frontline workers such as shop workers, delivery drivers and court staff are then expected to be offered the vaccine.
Help us to become independent in PANDEMIC COVID-19. Contribute to diligent Authors.