Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, speaking in a personal capacity, said the committee’s advice is to delay second doses up to 12 weeks.
He added: “But I think a number of people in the first waves were already booked in for appointments, and I think that’s why you’re seeing those figures. I’d hope they wouldn’t increase too much.” He said there were “difficulties” among primary care networks after the decision to delay second doses was given, because patients had already been booked for second doses.
Those administering second doses had not done anything wrong, Prof Harnden added, saying: “We did give them permission to do it any time between three and 12 weeks… but we recommend from a public health perspective that giving the second dose to someone denies someone the first dose. And the more people we get first dose into quickly, the more lives we will save.”
For every 100 people in London, just 2.7 jabs – including both first and second doses – have been administered up to January 10, the lowest proportional figure of any NHS region in England. In contrast, nearly double the number of total doses per 100 people have been administered in the South-West and the North-East and Yorkshire, at 5.1 and 5.0.
Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at PHE, said it was a “great achievement” that more than a third of over-80s have already been vaccinated.
“Although this sets us on the right path to getting back to normal life, we are not there yet and people must continue to follow the guidance that is in place to protect themselves and their loved ones,” she said. “These data will help us to evaluate the protection from the vaccine and to effectively target the roll-out of the programme to help control the virus and save lives.”