A nurse working in a busy emergency departments has tested positive for coronavirus after his second dose of the vaccine was delayed
David Longden was among the first in Wales to be immunised against Covid-19 on Tuesday, December 8 – the inaugural day the first dose of the Pfizer jab was rolled out.
The 43-year-old was meant to receive his second and final dose on Tuesday, January 5, but it was delayed due to a change in guidance which prioritised giving more people the first jab, Wales Online reports.
The UK’s four chief medical officers, along with experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), advised giving both parts of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines 12 weeks apart, having initially planned to leave 21 days between the jabs.
David tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, January 8, and is now self-isolating in a garden “log cabin” at his home in Pontypridd, away from his partner Andrew Price.
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David, an A&E nurse at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, said: “The Government needs to protect their frontline NHS staff – to not do so is just short-sighted.
“I’ve now been taken out of action for several days while the emergency department is slammed with patients. Bridgend is one of the areas of Wales with the highest rates of coronavirus.
“I’m also running the risk of exposing my partner to the virus. He’s diabetic and has lots of other health issues. So to be given that second dose would have given me peace of mind as well as him.”
David said he started feeling unwell on January 7, booked himself a test in Merthyr Tyfdil and then was confirmed positive with the virus 24 hours later.
“I had a headache and then a horrendous head cold. The day before that I also had a bout of diarrhoea and then just felt really ‘fluey’ and lethargic,” he said.
“I became increasingly unwell and had many of the typical Covid symptoms like loss of taste and smell, but thankfully I haven’t had a temperature yet.”
David said he was surprised when he was diagnosed with coronavirus but put it down to the more infectious strain circulating in Wales.
“In the first wave I never tested positive with Covid, and I’m very vigilant with my hand washing as I’ve tried to protect my partner as much as I can,” he added.
“But with this new strain they say it’s 50 per cent more virulent and I think that’s clearly the case.”
The British Medical Association in Wales wrote to Health Minister Vaughan Gething last week outlining its concerns about the current coronavirus rollout.
The letter by Dr David Bailey, chairman of the BMA Welsh Council, stated that the Pfizer vaccine trial only provided data to support the effectiveness of the two doses six weeks apart. He also warned that frontline NHS and care staff should be given both jabs “at the earliest opportunity” as they were more likely to be exposed to the virus.
The Welsh NHS has a record number of staff absences at present which is largely driven by positive Covid cases and rates of self-isolation.
“I can completely understand the logic to protecting as many people as possible, but I do believe that’s been at the detriment of following the evidence,” added David, who is still experiencing mild symptoms of the disease.
“In the first wave, frontline staff were not always protected from the virus due to a lack of PPE. Now I feel the general consensus among staff is that, despite the fact we have a vaccine offering 95 per cent immunity, we are again not being protected fully. It’s a double whammy.”
David added that the Covid area of A&E at the Princess of Wales was frequently full.
“It’s hard-going and the workload is relentless. Luckily in Bridgend we’ve got a fantastic team and we all pull together. I feel proud and privileged to be working alongside them,” he said.
“But it feels like Russian roulette with this virus as you don’t know how your body is going to react to it. That for me was why I was so anxious when I tested positive as I’ve seen people become very, very unwell with it and not just those who are elderly.”