** Update 21st January : Addressing Prof Nachman Ash’s quotes, the Israeli Ministry of Health said: “The comments of the Israeli Covid-19 commissioner regarding the effect of the first dose of the vaccine were out of context and, therefore, inaccurate. Professor Evans from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines said: “The reports that have come from Israel are insufficient to provide any evidence that the current UK policy in regard to delaying the second dose of vaccines is in any way incorrect.” click full article
The first dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is less than half effective as some officials indicated, Israel’s top infectious disease doctor claims. Dr Nachman Ash, one of the medics leading the Covid-19 response in Israel – which is leading the world in the race to vaccinate its population – said the first installment of the jab did not cut infection rates as much as he had hoped. He told local media Army Radio: ‘Many people have been infected between the first and second injections of the vaccine.‘ It can take 10 days or more for the immunity to kick in.
Immunity from the first dose kicks in within 12 to 14 days after it’s given, rising to a peak then falling, and Israel is waiting the 21 days Pfizer and regulators recommended between doses. After a second dose, the shot is 95 percent effective. Real-world data from Israel’s world-beating rollout showed the first dose led to a 33 percent reduction in cases of coronavirus between 14 and 21 days afterwards in people who got the jab.
In the US, experts are still recommending both doses be given on time. However, with second doses no longer reserved, and with no national stockpile of shots and States complaining of delayed shipments, some at-risk Americans who got their first doses may be left vulnerable and waiting for the second dose for days or weeks. This week, Florida health officials revealed that more than 45,000 people who had gotten their first doses of COVI-19 doses were late for their second ones.
Dr Anthony Fauci is among the US health officials who has been adamant that the US will not adopt the UK strategy of delaying second doses to get first doses to more people. But Americans may still be left waiting for their second doses, and the rollout of first doses is going painfully slowly. Releasing previously held-back second doses is intended to speed the US rollout, but could be counterproductive if second doses aren’t available and people get infected in the meantime.
In the UK, Public Health England is allowing second doses to be delayed up to 12 weeks – a plan which is now being questioned amid Dr Ash’s warnings and his “real world” data. This decision to prolong the gap between the first and second doses from three weeks to 12 weeks was questioned by many scientists. The World Health Organization and Pfizer and BioNTech, which made the vaccine, refused to give their blessing to Britain’s plan to space the two doses of of the jab by more than a month. click full article.
This new information is very worrying, and calls into question the efficacy of the whole UK vaccine programme, as the same delayed second dose policy also applies to the Oxford/Astra Zenica vaccine. If Israel’s findings are replicated in the UK, our vaccine strategy will collapse into crisis. Hopefully addressed in the update.