Bringing second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine forward by four weeks ‘makes sense’, says JCVI deputy

·2-min read
 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Bringing the second dose of AstraZeneca forward by four weeks "makes sense", the deputy chairman of the Joint Commission on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

Scotland has changed its official guidance to say the second vaccine should be given nearer to eight weeks from the first, than 12 weeks. Asked if England should follow suit, Professor Anthony Harnden told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that he believed it should.

"We are still vaccinating over 50s with their second dose in the UK at the moment so we want to complete that and we want to carry on reaching out to those unvaccinated individuals,” he said.

“But as we move down the age groups, particularly with plentiful supply of AstraZeneca vaccine, it would make sense to shorten that dose interval from 12 to eight weeks."

The move would help vaccinate the population quicker amid the spread of the Delta variant.

Watch: Boris Johnson faces Tory backlash as lockdown lifting put on hold

The variant, first identified in India, has been spreading rapidly across the country.

While the jab is said to be effective against the mutant strains of covid, new analysis by Public Health England (PHE) has revealed 29 per cent of Covid deaths from the variant had received two doses of the jab.

The PHE report also suggests the Delta variant has a 64 per cent increased risk of household transmission compared to the Kent (Alpha) variant. It is also thought to be 40 per cent more transmissible outdoors, according to the figures.

Dr William Welfare, Covid Incident Director at Public Health England, said in a statement: “It is highly likely that Delta is significantly more transmissible than Alpha and new research from PHE suggests there is an approximately 60 per cent increased risk of household transmission for Delta compared to Alpha.

“The overall growth of the Delta variant in the community is affected by the variant’s transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness and the individual circumstances of each case.

“We are continuing to investigate and manage the Delta variant to decrease transmission.”

In England, 39,061 cases of the Delta variant have now been confirmed, with 2,035 in Scotland, 184 in Wales and 43 in Northern Ireland.

Of those, 42 Britons have died from the Delta variant - 12 were fully vaccinated, 23 were unvaccinated, and seven had received their first dose more than 21 days before.

Watch: In China, doctors say Delta variant patients get sicker and faster

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