A UK study conducted by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with Public Health England reported that months of waiting between doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine produced much stronger protection against COVID-19.
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Dr Helen Parry, lead author of the study in Birmingham, said: ‘We have shown that the peaks in antibody response after the second Pfizer vaccination are really greatly increased in the elderly when this is delayed by 11 to 12 weeks. . marked difference between these two patterns in terms of the antibody responses we see. “
Britain has a policy of delaying the second dose for up to 12 weeks to free up vaccines for more people. Britain announced on Sunday that more than 20 million people have now received both doses. The two injections of the Pfizer vaccine were to be given three to four weeks apart.
The study found that the antibodies were three and a half times higher when given after 12 weeks.
“This study further supports the growing body of evidence that the UK approach to delaying this second dose has really paid off,” said Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England. “Individuals should really supplement their second dose when offered to them, as it not only provides additional protection, but also potentially longer lasting protection against COVID-19.
Pfizer was not affiliated with the study.
“Pfizer can only comment on the dosing regimen and results described in our Phase III clinical trial, which demonstrated that two doses given 21 days apart resulted in a vaccine efficacy of 95%,” said the carrier. Pfizer Jerica Pitts told Fox News. “However, we are encouraged by the growing wealth of evidence from independent studies and real world data that supports the effectiveness of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in real settings.” Along with governments and public health organizations around the world, we are united in our efforts to control the pandemic and support the continued sharing of data that enables healthcare professionals and organizations to make informed public health decisions for their local populations. “
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Almost 70% of UK adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
New confirmed cases of the virus have increased over the past week, although they remain well below the winter peak. New infections have averaged about 2,200 per day over the past seven days, up from nearly 70,000 per day at the peak in January. Recent deaths have averaged just over 10 per day, up from 1,820 on January 20.
Britain has recorded nearly 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest figure in Europe.
“Overall, this data adds considerable support to the policy of postponing the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine when vaccine availability is limited and the population at risk is large,” said Eleanor Riley, professor of COVID-19. Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Edinburgh. “Longer-term follow-up of this cohort will help us understand which vaccination interval will be optimal in the future, once the immediate crisis is over.
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Thousands of UK pubs and restaurants opened for indoor service on Monday for the first time since early January.
Theaters, entertainment venues and museums were also reopening as part of the latest step in easing nationwide restrictions, raising hopes that the UK economy may soon begin to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
The government has also relaxed guidelines on close personal contact – meaning people can kiss friends and relatives they don’t live with.
Public health officials urge people to continue to observe social distancing.
The rapid spread of a variant first discovered in India dampens optimism amid memories of how the British variant swept the country in December, triggering England’s third national lockdown.
Scientists say the new variant, officially known as B.1.617.2 and first found in India, is more transmissible than the main UK strain, although it is not known in which measured.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Indian variant has been found in at least 86 local areas. The largest concentration was in Bolton and Blackburn, in the north-west of England, where military-backed health officials are carrying out surge tests and surge vaccinations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.