Some UK family doctors said on Thursday they would defy the government’s instructions to reject patients’ appointments for a second dose of coronavirus vaccine, a sign of unrest in the medical community over Britain’s new plan to delay two shots as a way to administration of several people partial protection of a single dose.
British doctors, who have been instructed to start rescheduling their second-dose appointments for next week, said they are disdainful of asking older and vulnerable patients to wait another two months for Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccines. They said these patients relied on full two-dose protection, had already arranged caregivers to help them get to their doctors’ offices and could not afford to rely on a new untested vaccination strategy.
Beyond that, doctors said it was logistically impossible to contact thousands of older patients in a matter of days and then fill those slots with recipients for the first time.
The British Medical Association, a doctors’ union, said on Thursday it would support doctors who decided to keep appointments for the second dose, which was set for January.
“It is extremely unfair for tens of thousands of our most at-risk patients to try to reschedule their appointments now,” said Dr. Richard Vautrey, chairman of the union’s family physicians committee, in a statement. “The government must see that it is right for existing reservations for the oldest and most vulnerable members of our society to be honored, and it must also publish a scientifically validated justification for its new approach as soon as possible.”
The UK National Health Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Delaying the second dose of vaccine could double the number of people eligible for vaccines in the coming weeks and eventually ease the value of the virus in the UK, where hospitals are facing a flood of new cases. more contagious coronavirus. Although anyone could be better off with the two full doses, some scientists have said that society as a whole benefits if more than one person is offered partial protection of a single dose at the moment.
But other scientists believe that the UK has exceeded the available evidence, potentially leaving the elderly and health workers without full protection of two doses of vaccine amid the terrible winter growth. The UK took the decision without the public hearings or voluminous briefings that preceded US regulatory decisions. No study has explicitly tested the long-term effectiveness of a single stroke.
And what limited evidence exists about the protection offered by a single dose clashed with scientists’ fears that antibody responses would decrease over time, possibly falling below a protection threshold.
Some GPs in the UK have said they are mostly concerned about older patients whose families and carers have already drawn up plans to bring them to vaccination meetings next week. Others said they were concerned about the lack of evidence that patients would be protected for several weeks by Covid-19 after a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“I was trained to break my promise to my elderly patients,” said Dr Helen Salisbury, a family doctor in Oxford. said on Twitter Thursday morning, “And use a vaccine outside of its highlighted and approved schedule, probably endangering them.”