Tony Blair has called for Britain to scrap its current coronavirus vaccination strategy and give 'as many people as possible' a single dose of the jab
Tony Blair has called for Britain to scrap its current coronavirus vaccination strategy and give ‘as many people as possible’ a single dose of the jab to curb the spread of the mutant strain racing through the UK.
The former prime minister said today the present two-dose vaccination plan which prioritises elderly and vulnerable people ‘must be altered and radically accelerated’ in the face of the highly infectious variant.
Currently the only Covid vaccine approved for use in the UK is Pfizer/BioNTechs’, but one made by Oxford University is expected to get the green light in the coming weeks — both need to be administers via two shots three weeks apart to work fully.
Britain’s medical regulator has ruled Pfizer’s vaccine can block Covid a week after the second dose, but the US’ drugs regulator found it provided ‘strong protection’ to about half of patients seven days after the first.
However, the single-dose method hasn’t been definitively put to the tes, so scientists can only infer from the trial data that Pfizer’s vaccine would stimulate a good enough immune response in roughly half of people who get one dose.
Mr Blair, who has no science or medical credentials, said students and other asymptomatic spreaders of the disease should be prioritised, along with frontline healthcare staff and the elderly and vulnerable, to tackle the winter wave of infections.
At the moment the priority list for Covid vaccines is based on how vulnerable people are to dying from the disease, with care home staff, very elderly people and their carers and patients with severe diseases like cancer first in the queue.
But ‘if it is the spread we’re anxious about, then it makes sense to consider vaccinating those doing the spreading, in particular certain occupations or age groups such as students,’ according to Mr Blair.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and seven million of the one made by Moderna, which won’t be ready for use in the UK until spring.
So far the UK has 800,000 doses of the Pfizer jab and approximately 10 million are expected by the end of the year, although the American drugs giant has been hit by shortages of raw materials, which could limit the number Britain gets access to.
Britain should give ‘as many people as possible’ a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine to curb the spread of the mutant strain racing through the UK, according to Tony Blair
Writing in a column in the Independent, Mr Blair said: ‘The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency should clear the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine within days, to add to the Pfizer one. We have several million doses available and with perhaps another 15 million available in January.
‘It is a two-dose vaccine, but even the first dose will provide substantial immunity, with full effectiveness coming with a second dose two to three months later – longer than originally thought.
‘We should consider using all the available doses in January as first doses, that is, not keeping back half for second doses. Then, as more production is rolled out, we will have enough for the second dose.
‘Thirty million Johnson and Johnson vaccines – which is a one-dose vaccine – should also be with us by end of January. We should aim to use them all in February.
‘We should continue to prioritise frontline health staff and the most vulnerable, but let this not hold up vaccinating others.
‘The aim should be to vaccinate as many people as possible in the coming months. The logic behind age is naturally heightened risk of mortality.