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UK to delay second dose of Oxford vaccine

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The Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine can be given up to 12 weeks apart.

The Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine can be given up to 12 weeks apart.

The Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine can be given up to 12 weeks apart.

Dosages of the Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine can be given up to 12 weeks apart to help speed up the roll-out across the country, the UK drugs regulator has said.

The two-dose vaccine will be administered as one jab initially, with the campaign focusing on giving many of the most vulnerable a degree of protection. A second dose will then be administered four to 12 weeks later.

The British Government has also announced that the Pfizer vaccine should also be given as a single dose initially.

This is despite the fact that it was given the green light on the basis of clinical trials of two doses, administered 21 days apart. In a statement Pfizer said that any “alternative” dosing regimens should be followed with surveillance by health authorities.

However, Dr June Raine, head of the MHRA, said “no corners have been cut” in assessing the safety and effectiveness of the jab, adding the Oxford vaccine would save tens of thousands of lives.

Phase three trials of the vaccine showed that it was 62pc effective when given in two full doses four weeks apart. However, when a dosing error in one arm of the trial led to a half dose being given, followed by a full dose four weeks later, efficacy rose to 90pc.

However, the UK regulator has said the jab should be administered in two full doses.

Professor Munir Pirmohamed, chairman of Britain’s expert working group on Covid-19 vaccines, said: “We’ve come to the decision of an interval of between four to 12 weeks, based on the data that was presented to us.

“Because of the design of the trial, some people got second doses at different time intervals. This allowed an analysis of the effectiveness of the vaccine if you were to be able to delay between four to 12 weeks.

“This showed that the effectiveness was high, up to 80pc, when there was a three-month interval between the first and second doses, which is the reason for our recommendation.”

The decision to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible comes as the NHS reaches breaking point.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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