The wait time between the first and second dose of the Covid vaccine is ‘to be halved to four weeks’ as No10 urges the jabs roll-out to be sped up with Freedom Day looming.
Officials have asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to provide immediate advice on reducing the interval from the eight weeks stated in current guidance, The Sunday Times has said.
Public Health England’s vaccination instructions issued to doctors and nurses states that for the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs ‘there is evidence of better immune response and/or protection where longer intervals between doses are used’.
JCVI scientists will now compare the benefits of an extra immune response provided by a longer gap between doses to the vulnerability of people who have had only a single jab.
The reduction, if approved, would open up the prospect of quarantine-free foreign travel for millions who would otherwise have had to wait a further month to receive their second does.
The wait time between the first and second dose of the Covid vaccine is ‘to be halved to four weeks’ as No10 urges the jabs roll-out to be sped up with Freedom Day looming (stock image)
The discussion comes amid surging cases of the now-dominant Delta variant – which is better able than others to evade the first dose – with Freedom Day looming.
But Boris Johnson is to press ahead with the lifting of Covid rules on July 19 despite increasing pressure last night from some doctors and scientists to delay the move.
The Prime Minister is expected to confirm tomorrow that all restrictions will be removed next week – with No 10 sources saying that Mr Johnson trusted in ‘the innate good sense of the British people’ not to embrace their new liberties ‘recklessly’.
The pledge came after the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) warned yesterday that the number of cases was ‘rising dramatically’ and the NHS was under unprecedented pressure.
Yesterday, the UK recorded 32,367 new Covid cases and 34 deaths after the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges warned that the number of cases was ‘rising dramatically
Almost 45.8 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine – equivalent to 86.9 per cent of adults, while 65.6 per cent have received both jabs.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the AMRC, said she was ‘profoundly concerned’ about removing all restrictions on July 19.
‘There seems to be a misapprehension that life will return to normal from then and that we can throw away all the precautions and, frankly, that would be dangerous,’ she said.
But a Government source said: ‘It is still full steam ahead, but we are trusting people to behave cautiously.
‘There are going to be some difficult days ahead, but it is better that we open up now with the school holidays upon us than when they are back in the classrooms in the autumn.’
Boris Johnson is to press ahead with the lifting of Covid rules on July 19 despite increasing pressure last night from some doctors and scientists to delay the move
Yesterday, the UK recorded 32,367 new Covid cases and 34 deaths.
Almost 45.8 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine – equivalent to 86.9 per cent of adults – while 65.6 per cent have received both jabs.
Ministers have urged Mr Johnson to let double-jabbed tourists come to the UK from July 19 – or risk devastating the domestic holiday market.
The Cabinet has been split over how to open up travel, with some warning against a phased reopening that prioritises people who have been double-jabbed in the UK.
Despite this, a staggered approach was announced last week after the Border Force said it wouldn’t cope with a full reopening, sources told The Mail on Sunday.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that from July 19, people who have received both jabs from the NHS will be able to visit amber-list countries without having to self-isolate on returning to the UK.
MailOnline has contacted No10 for comment on reducing the vaccination interval.
Hospital waiting lists are rocketing towards 13MILLION, warns Savid Javid as he says ‘very British’ attitude of not wishing to overburden NHS during Covid pandemic is leaving millions untreated and undiagnosed
The new Health Secretary said internal modelling showed the current record number of 5.3million patients awaiting treatment could more than double this summer.
He believes the pandemic has had a huge impact on other health problems as well as affecting those who decided not to seek treatment for fear of catching the virus in hospital.
The new Health Secretary said internal modelling showed the current record number of 5.3million patients awaiting treatment could more than double this summer
Javid told The Telegraph the ‘very British’ attitude of trying to protect the NHS has worsened the problem.
He said: ‘What shocked me the most is when I was told that the waiting list is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
‘It’s gone up from 3.5million to 5.3million as of today, and I said to the officials: “So what do you mean [by] a lot worse”, thinking maybe it goes from 5.3 to six million, seven million.
‘They said no, it’s going to go up by millions… it could go as high as 13million.
‘Hearing that figure of 13million, it has absolutely totally focused my mind, and it’s going to be one of my top priorities to deal with because we can’t have that.’
Modelling shown to the Health Secretary showed seven million people who would have normally sought medical treatment did not during the pandemic.
This includes tens of thousands of people who are believed to have missed out on checks for cancer and heart disease treatment, on top of untreated mental health issues.
Javid said clearing the backlog is one of his top priorities and current proposals include more virtual appointments and relying on private hospitals to provide care.
It comes as NHS trusts are facing the combined hit of Covid cases rising again, the backlog for other treatments including cancer checks and heart disease, and staff shortages due to workers having to self-isolate if they are ‘pinged’ by the Covid app.
NHS Providers, the membership organisation for NHS trusts in England, warned that up to a fifth of staff could be absent from one NHS trust in just three weeks from now, potentially leading to the cancellation of as many as 900 operations.
Mr Javid confirmed to The Sunday Telegraph that there was ‘every reason to think that we can take a more proportionate and balanced approach to the isolation policy’ for NHS staff after No 10 suggested they could be exempt from having to stay at home if they had two jabs.
He also discussed NHS pay and that raising taxes to fund social care could be a ‘practical and obvious’ solution.
Earlier, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said deaths were beginning to rise again too.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’ve only just heard in this bulletin about the rising numbers of cases, the rising numbers of people requiring hospital treatment, in intensive care and sadly deaths are starting to rise again, too.
‘There seems to be a misapprehension that life will return to normal from then (July 19), and that we can throw away all the precautions, and frankly, that would be dangerous.’
Warnings over July 19, which is being called freedom day, were echoed by Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham, who told the Observer it was more like ‘anxiety day’.
He told the newspaper: ‘The Government is simply wrong to frame everything from here as a matter of pure personal choice. It is not.
‘Many people who are vulnerable to the virus have to use public transport and do their food shopping in person. That is why the wearing of face coverings in these settings should have remained mandatory. I will be strongly encouraging the people of Greater Manchester to continue to wear masks on public transport out of respect for others.’
In his Sunday Telegraph interview, Mr Javid said anyone who would not wear a mask in an enclosed space was ‘just being irresponsible’ despite it becoming guidance rather than the law in Step 4 of restrictions lifting.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘Given Sajid Javid now considers it irresponsible to not wear masks then it would be equally irresponsible for his government to carry on with the plan to lift mask requirements while infections are heading to 100,000 a day.’
The rate of new cases of coronavirus in most areas of England is now back at levels last seen during the winter.
Patient numbers have risen to levels last seen around three months ago.
And there has been a very slight increase in the average number of deaths reported each day of people in England who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.
But this is still far below the sort of numbers seen in January and February of this year.
The Sunday Times reported that No 10 had asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to look at whether the wait between the two doses of the vaccine could be cut to four weeks in light of the rise in cases.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said in a statement: ‘There is little doubt that things will get worse before they get better.’