On Wednesday 30 December 2020, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine had been approved for use in the UK, with a dosing schedule of 12 weeks between first and second dose. In this announcement, the dosing schedule for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was also changed to a 12-week gap between first and second dose. These announcements were made based on recommendations from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The British Society for Immunology has produced a statement that lays out our position on these announcements around change of dosing schedule for the two approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology says:
“The British Society for Immunology is committed to working with Government, our members and the public to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine rollout is done in a manner that maximises safety and protection while minimising serious disease. Our country now faces an extremely difficult few weeks with high levels of SARS-CoV-2 circulating within our communities. While our preference is always for an evidence-based approach, we understand the pragmatic approach taken by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in recommending a longer gap between COVID vaccine doses. Our statement lays out in full why we have come to this conclusion along with some recommendations for what is now needed to build the evidence base and further increase public confidence in the vaccination programme.
“The British Society for Immunology continues to liaise with the Chief Medical Officer, Department for Health and Social Care and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on these issues and stand ready to assist whenever needed. We will also continue to support and work through our membership to do all we can to defeat this virus and to steer us all through this pandemic.”
Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters, Chair of the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 and Immunology Taskforce, says:
“With the change to COVID-19 vaccine dosing schedules and with the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths increasing at a significant rate, the British Society for Immunology has made several recommendations to ensure that the vaccine rollout has the maximum impact in saving lives. This includes implementing a robust programme of immune monitoring to assess how changing the dosing schedule of the two COVID-19 vaccines impacts efficacy.
“Clear communication is key and we encourage the Government to run a high-profile, multifaceted engagement programme to further build public understanding of COVID-19 vaccination. As well as answering the public’s questions around COVID-19 vaccination, it is crucial that a strong message is heard by all that the timing of the vaccinations may have changed but it is still critical to receive two doses to gain optimum protection from COVID-19 disease.”
If you have any feedback, please email the BSI Head of External Affairs, Jennie Evans, at firstname.lastname@example.org.