WHO recommends against 12-week delay for COVID-19 vaccine doses

pharmafile | January 6, 2021 | News story | Research and Development COVID-19, Vaccine, WHO 

The WHO has recommended against the UK’s plans to delay second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by 12 weeks, saying people should receive the second dose within 21 to 28 days of the first jab.

Chief medical officers in the UK have backed plans to delay the second Pfizer-BioNTech jab in order to provide more people with an initial vaccine, saying the first dose offers “substantial” protection.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)’s new dosing programme, aimed at enabling a faster roll-out of the vaccine, will see second vaccine doses given within 12 weeks of the first.

But Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), has said doses of the jab should not be delayed.

He said in a briefing yesterday: “We deliberated and came out with the following recommendation: two doses of this (Pfizer) vaccine within 21-28 days.

“SAGE made a provision for countries in exceptional circumstances of (Pfizer) vaccine supply constraints to delay the administration of the second dose for a few weeks in order to maximise the number of individuals benefiting from a first dose.

“I think we have to be a bit open to these types of decisions which countries have to make according to their own epidemiological situations.”

Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor, told a Downing Street press conference that number of people vaccinated could be doubled over three months if the time between each vaccine dose was extended.

A speedy roll-out of vaccines across the UK is all the more urgent after the country recorded over 60,000 COVID-19 cases yesterday. In a desperate bid to curb skyrocketing coronavirus cases across the nation, England has been placed under its third national lockdown as of this morning.

Darcy Jimenez

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