politics

Care home residents dying after first jab as PM gambles on vaccine delay


Boris Johnson is taking the biggest gamble of his career over delays to the Covid vaccine programme.

The PM ordered vital second doses to be delayed by up to 12 weeks after the first so millions more people could have their initial injection.

But dozens of care home residents have died with Covid after the jab, the Sunday People has discovered.

Now care home chiefs and doctors have called for the UK to cut the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to six weeks over fears that deaths could soar again.

One social care charity chief said: “Until we get to the bottom of what percentage of immunity we truly get on average, we’re gambling.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gambling with lives
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gambling with lives

The British Medical Association warned England’s Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty that no other country in the world has adopted the UK’s 12-week wait between jabs and said it was proving “ever more difficult to justify”.

There were also fears that in 12 weeks there could be a vaccine shortage with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca facing issues.

The BMA warning came as official figures revealed care home Covid-linked deaths in England last week increased by the highest amount since last May.

Some of those deaths include residents who had the first jab in December and were still waiting for the second.



Britain's Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty
Britain’s Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty

Doctors and scientists told the Sunday People the UK is effectively running its own clinical trial with its jabs policy while fears about a Covid mutation are rising.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s council chairman said: “Most nations in the world are facing challenges similar to the UK in having limited vaccine supply and also wanting to protect their population maximally.

“But no other nation adopted the UK’s approach.”

But Prof Whitty tonight defended the policy – signed off by the PM – saying it allowed many more people to be vaccinated quickly.



Doctor gives corona virus vaccine
A second dose is vital to ensure better protection

More than 5.8 million Brits have had jabs but only around 440,000 have had a second.

Dr David Strain, a hospital consultant in Exeter, said: “The UK is going against world opinion by sticking out for 12 weeks.

“Effectively the whole of the UK has been enrolled in a clinical trial.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The decision to change vaccine dosage intervals followed a thorough review of the data and was in line with recommendations of the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers as both vaccines provide a high degree of protection after the first dose.



A member of the public receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine today
A member of the public receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

“Protection after dose one takes up to three weeks to kick in and the impact on transmission is not yet known so it’s vital people continue to take precautions.”

It comes amid warnings the new UK Covid variant is more lethal than the original.

Today’s new infections were 33,552 – nearly 20% lower than last Saturday.

But recorded deaths – a lagging indicator – rose 4% to 1,348.

One support group for grieving relatives, Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said the UK’s looming 100,000 death toll “isn’t a milestone, it’s a tombstone”.





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