x

Science

UK: New Study Vindicates Delaying 2nd Virus Vaccine Dose

February 3, 2021

LONDON — Britain's health chief said Wednesday that a new study suggesting that a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine provides a high level of protection for 12 weeks supports the government's strategy of delaying the second shot so more people can quickly be protected by the first dose.

Britain's decision has been criticized as risky by other European countries, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the study "backs the strategy that we've taken and it shows the world that the Oxford vaccine works effectively."

Hancock's comments came after Oxford University released a study showing the vaccine cut the transmission of the virus by two-thirds and prevented severe disease. 

The study has not been peer-reviewed yet and does not address the efficacy of the other vaccine currently in use in the U.K., made by Pfizer. Pfizer recommends that its shots be given 21 days apart and has not endorsed the U.K. government's decision to lengthen the time between doses.

But the Oxford research was greeted with excitement by U.K. officials under pressure to justify their decision to delay the second dose for up to 12 weeks.

"That reduction in transmission, as well as the fact there is no hospitalizations, the combination of that is very good news. And it categorically supports the strategy we've been taking on having a 12-week gap between the doses," Hancock told Sky News.

Britain has Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 108,000 deaths, and is in its third national lockdown as authorities try to contain a new, more transmissible virus variant first identified in southeast England.

Other variants are also a concern. Public health officials are going door to door, trying to test all adults in eight targeted communities in England in an attempt to stop a new strain first identified in South Africa from spreading further.

So far 105 cases of the variant have been identified in the U.K., 11 of them in people with no links to overseas travel. Scientists say there is no evidence the South African variant is more serious than the original virus but it may be more contagious, and there are concerns that current vaccines may be less effective against it.

That is a worry as the U.K. races vaccinate its own population against the virus. Almost 10 million people have received the first of their two shots, including the bulk of people over 80 and those in nursing homes.

One of the lead researchers on the Oxford vaccine project, Dr. Andrew Pollard, said Oxford scientists believe the vaccine will continue to offer protection against new variants of COVID-19, although they are still waiting for data on that.

He said even if the virus adapts, "that doesn't mean that we won't still have protection against severe disease.''

"If we do need to update the vaccines, then it is actually a relatively straightforward process. It only takes a matter of months, rather than the huge efforts that everyone went through last year to get the very large-scale trials run," he told the BBC.

RELATED

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — New research indicates the sun’s magnetic field originates much closer to the surface than previously thought, a finding that could help predict periods of extreme solar storms like the ones that slammed Earth earlier this month.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Zelensky outcries to world from Kharkiv (VIDEO)

KHARKIV - Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has released a video plea calling on world leaders to attend a “peace summit” next month in Switzerland after a deadly Russian attack on a DIY hypermarket in Kharkiv on Saturday.

ATHENS - With an eye on high food prices, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked voters in the June 6-9 European Parliament elections to back his efforts to accelerate an economic recovery while his opponents hoped to make gains.

KHARKIV - Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has released a video plea calling on world leaders to attend a “peace summit” next month in Switzerland after a deadly Russian attack on a DIY hypermarket in Kharkiv on Saturday.

ATHENS – On a beautiful spring day in Athens the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate opened their 4th International Conference on Religious Freedom in the presence Greek church and government officials and 300 Archons and family members from all over the world.

ALBANY – New York State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R,C-Staten Island/Brooklyn) alongside Assemblyman Mike Reilly (R,C-Staten Island) and Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, announced the passage in the Assembly of ‘Detective Brian Simonsen’s Law,’ a bipartisan proposal that will require cell phone providers to immediately disable services to stolen cell phones.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.