US and UK diverge over critical COVID-19 vaccine dose strategy
New advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now suggesting the second dose of both approved vaccines can be delayed for up to 12 weeks. While clinical trial data is not clear on how this change to the tested dosing schedule will affect long-term immunity, the JCVI advice presents a utilitarian solution to the current wave of virus transmission spreading across the UK.
“The four UK Chief Medical Officers agree with the JCVI that at this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services,” declares a UK government statement.
In response to the UK government decision, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement claiming it does not recommend changes to currently approved COVID-19 vaccine dosing schedules, and called any changes to dosing schedules, “premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence.”
The FDA’s statement claims there is no data from clinical trials to suggest anything definitive about the depth or duration of protection one would receive from a single vaccine dose.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with CNN the US will not be following the UK in delaying a second dose for COVID-19 vaccines. He added that while he understood the argument for delaying a second dose, there simply is no clear evidence from clinical trials that one dose generates effective protection.