New data should lead to vaccine plan rethink, says Cork expert

New data should lead to vaccine plan rethink, says Cork expert

Dr Elizabeth Brint of UCC’s pathology department believes that the time between administering the first and second dose of the vaccine could be spread out. Picture Dan Linehan

THE latest data on the impact of the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should give cause for a rethink of Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy, according to an immunologist at University College Cork (UCC).

Dr Elizabeth Brint of UCC’s pathology department believes that the time between administering the first and second dose of the vaccine could be spread out, based on the latest data recently published in the medical journal The Lancet.

“This data that has come out from Israel, in this group of 8,000 hospital workers, which showed 89% to 91% efficacy during days 15 to 28 after the first dose,” she said.

Dr Elizabeth Brint of UCC's Department of Pathology.
Dr Elizabeth Brint of UCC's Department of Pathology.

Dr Brint added that the new data is showing “a really high rate of protection against infection and hospitalisation after one dose of the vaccine” when compared to the Pfizer/BioNtech clinical trial, which showed that the first dose only conferred an efficacy of 53% to 54%.

“The approach we have taken has been absolutely straightforward and reasonable based on the data that we have out there and the data produced by the clinical trials through these companies, but now maybe we need to think about the new data and consider our strategy in light of the new data.

“We could think about maybe stretching out our doses slightly more than the three weeks and, therefore, reaching our vulnerable population with a first dose in a quicker time frame.

“I’m not suggesting stretching the second dose out by an extraordinary period of time, but if we delayed the second dose by a week to three weeks, we could be able to vaccinate a lot more people in that time frame,” she said.

Dr Brint believes that the country is doing “a perfectly good job” in vaccinating within the confines of what can be managed and that “there’s no doubt that we’ve been hampered by the supply issue that has existed so far”.

However, she said: “We’re expecting much more delivery of vaccines in March and, personally, I love the phrase that we’ll have more vaccines than we know what to do with in April. This is a really good time for us, so it’s just a case of responding to the new data effectively and considering our strategy and trying to be agile in our response as well during what is a critical time frame,” she said.

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