A&E nurse tests positive for COVID days after second vaccine dose is cancelled

David Longden, 43, was given the jab on Tuesday. (Reach)
David Longden, 43, was given the jab last month. (Reach)

An NHS nurse has tested positive for coronavirus after an appointment to administer his second dose of the vaccine was cancelled.

David Longden, 43, an A&E nurse at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, Wales, was given his first jab on 8 December.

He had been due to receive his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday last week, but the appointment was cancelled after guidance was changed to prioritise giving more people their first jab.

Medical chiefs have approved the government’s decision to administer both parts of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines 12 weeks apart, having initially planned to leave 21 days between the Pfizer jabs.

Longdean is a nurse at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend. (Google)
Longdean is a nurse at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend. (Google)

Defending the move, Professor Chris Whitty said people would still likely be offered more than 50% protection after being given the first dose, which would be sufficient to get the pandemic under control.

But, despite getting his first dose, Longden tested positive for the virus on Friday last week and is now self-isolating at home in Pontypridd.

Longden said: "The government needs to protect their frontline NHS staff – to not do so is just short-sighted.

"I've now been taken out of action for several days while the emergency department is slammed with patients. Bridgend is one of the areas of Wales with the highest rates of coronavirus.

"I'm also running the risk of exposing my partner to the virus. He's diabetic and has lots of other health issues. So to be given that second dose would have given me peace of mind as well as him."

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Longden said he started feeling unwell on 7 January, and booked himself a test in Merthyr Tyfdil. He was then confirmed positive 24 hours later.

"I had a headache and then a horrendous head cold. The day before that I also had a bout of diarrhoea and then just felt really fluey and lethargic," he said.

"I became increasingly unwell and had many of the typical COVID symptoms like loss of taste and smell, but thankfully I haven't had a temperature yet."

Longden said he was surprised when he was diagnosed with coronavirus but put it down to the more infectious strain circulating in Wales.

Watch: Hospitals warn coronavirus admissions have not yet peaked

"In the first wave I never tested positive with COVID, and I'm very vigilant with my hand-washing as I've tried to protect my partner as much as I can," he said.

"But with this new strain they say it's 50% more virulent and I think that's clearly the case."

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Wales wrote to health minister Vaughan Gething last week outlining its concerns about the current vaccine rollout.

The letter by Dr David Bailey, chairman of the BMA Welsh Council, stated that the Pfizer vaccine trial only provided data to support the effectiveness of the two doses six weeks apart.

He also warned that frontline NHS and care staff should be given both jabs "at the earliest opportunity" as they were more likely to be exposed to the virus.

The Welsh NHS has a record number of staff absences at present, largely driven by positive COVID cases and rates of self-isolation.

"I can completely understand the logic to protecting as many people as possible, but I do believe that's been at the detriment of following the evidence," said Longden, who is still experiencing mild symptoms of the disease.

"In the first wave, frontline staff were not always protected from the virus due to a lack of PPE.

“Now I feel the general consensus among staff is that, despite the fact we have a vaccine offering 95% immunity, we are again not being protected fully. It's a double whammy."

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Speaking at the Welsh government press conference on Monday, Gething said the decision to extend the gap between the two doses of the Pfizer vaccine would avoid more deaths.

The health minister said: "Each of the vaccines provide a high level of protection against harm from coronavirus. That's really good news for all of us.

"The second dose is important because it does have some impact on improving the protection but, in particular, we think it'll provide longer-term protection as well.

"Think of it in this way: if you have two doses of the vaccine available you could choose to give that to one person to provide them with full excellent protection, or you could decide to give two doses to two different people to provide both of them with high-level protection.”

Watch: What is long COVID?