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Thursday, 31 December 2020

Vaccines - Hancock’s Half Hinformed

After the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in the UK, the mood among health professionals began at last to lighten: here was the first sign that Covid-19 could be, if not conquered, at least made far less deadly. Now has come regulatory approval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, a far less expensive, more easily transported and stored, and hopefully more widely available, treatment. But here a problem enters.

These vaccines, and others which may include the US Moderna and Russian Sputnik-V jabs, will be rolled out under the supervision of the Government. And after the amount of foul-ups over which they have already presided, not least addressing PPE shortages (or, sometimes, not), sending confusing messages over what is and is not allowed during partial lockdowns, and indeed, locking down too late, public confidence is fragile.

Worse, the chief decision maker will be Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who may mean well, but like so many who serve in the cabinet of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, has been selected on the basis of loyalty first, and ability somewhat later. And what the Guardian reported yesterday has raised concerns.

Both the Oxford vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech jab which is already in use will be given to people as one shot, followed by another up to 12 weeks later, in order to extend some protection to as many people as possible as quickly as possible”. Now, for the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, that should not be a problem. But it is for the Pfizer-BioNTech one.

Although one dose of the Oxford vaccine gives some protection, the Science Media Centre has observedNot surprisingly, only the two standard dose regimen has been approved by the MHRA - with a variable interval (4-12 weeks apart) between the first and second dose”. So the second shot has to come before 12 weeks have passed since the first one.

But now, Chris Smyth of the Times has told “Hancock says that second dose appointments for Pfizer jabs booked for after Monday will be cancelled so more first jabs can be given. Second doses will be postponed for later months”. Wrong. Here’s why: “Pfizer-BioNTech said that their vaccine was not designed to be used in two shots 12 weeks apart”.

There is more. “There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days”. It is possible that protection from Covid-19 is sustained, but then again, it is also possible that it is not. Hancock has no evidence to back up his volte face.

Not surprisingly, an increasing number of concerned observers have picked up on this news, which, combined with knowledge of the Government’s shambolic response to the pandemic, is rapidly eroding trust when and where it is needed most.

Matt Hancock has to order a differential vaccination régime, with three weeks between shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but a longer gap for the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, and drop his “one shot for all” solution, which appears to have come from a convocation of ex-politicians and uninformed pundits. He needs to get a grip.

The public needs to be confident that the Government can, and will, deliver vaccination effectively. Right now, they are not. Time for Hancock to not be half hearted.

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Anonymous said...

Handcock is a classic example of Oxbridge total self-assured mediocrity.

An utter creepy arsehead who shouldn't be allowed near living organisms of any kind.

Unknown said...

Couldn't organise a piss up in a distillery. Highly effective when it comes to peculation / malfeasance however. Lock'em up.

Steve Woods said...

Hancock is yet another mediocre product of the public school and Oxbridge system that has served this country so badly down the centuries.

In Hancock's particular case, he graduated in PPE*, which has over recent decades become the ultimate joke degree.

There's another Oxford PPE graduate in the present cabinet: the talent-free entity known as Liz Truss.

* = Any connection between this degree and an acronym for something useful and practical is purely coincidental.

Iain said...

Not using the vaccine as specified is a breach of it's licence and so medical malpractice.

Neville said...

Another scandal on the way. This will ensure that the UK will be hamstrung by COVID for a lot longer.

Jonathan said...

Hancock is only in the Cabinet for his loyalty not talent.

The over numeracy of the useless PPE degree in British politics, is rather telling in the repeated crisies, the ideologues it creates and the obsession with neoliberalism.

Bwana Mrefu said...

I think Alexi Sayle said it best; "the abbreviation PPE, stands for Politics, philosophy, and Egotism"