A top vaccine expert has criticised the British Medical Association for generating anxiety about the Covid jab.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which advises the Government, accused the doctors’ union of misleading the public over the injections.
He hit out after the BMA criticised the Government’s decision to extend the wait time for the second jab from three to 12 weeks.
The BMA wrote to health bosses over the weekend asking them to cut the gap as it claimed that the vaccine could become less effective if the wait for the second dose is too long.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which advises the Government, accused the doctors’ union of misleading the public over the injections. Picture: Stock
But Professor Finn, of Bristol University, said that if anything, the early evidence suggests that protection might increase with a greater gap.
‘I must be careful [with] what I say about the BMA but I would say that it would be a good idea to really understand the issues before you make public pronouncements,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
However, on social media he went further as he posted the phone number for the BMA membership cancellation line and encouraged fellow doctors to leave the union.
He claimed that the 12-week gap is likely to offer more protection than the three weeks initially proposed.
He added: ‘Other countries are looking at what the UK is doing with enormous interest and this may well turn out to be another example of a long tradition in us being innovative and creative with our resources, and producing a much better way of using the vaccine.’
Professor Finn warned that the public could be misled by critics saying that there is a lack of evidence for the Government’s approach.
He claimed that the 12-week gap is likely to offer more protection than the three weeks initially proposed. Picture: Stock
He insisted there is ‘rock-solid evidence that if you give a dose of the vaccine to more people you… save lives’.
In a letter to Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, the BMA called for the 12-week gap to be reduced.
It said: ‘The absence of any international support for the UK’s approach is a cause of deep concern and risks undermining public and the profession’s trust in the vaccination programme.’
Anthony Fauci, the US infectious disease expert, last night said he was also concerned about the delayed second dose.
Health chiefs probe how fast new drug could tackle mutant strains
Officials are investigating how fast a new vaccine could be made and rolled out in the UK to tackle new coronavirus strains.
Amid mounting evidence that the South African strain of the virus may cause problems for existing vaccines, Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, said high-level discussions were taking place.
It comes as US biotech firm Moderna is set to trial a new booster dose of its vaccine – which has been approved for use in the UK – against the South African strain.
Speaking yesterday, Dr Hopkins said officials are looking closely at mutant strains emerging globally and plan to work with the World Health Organisation if new vaccines are needed.
She said: ‘We are coming together with scientists to build what we think are the likely mutations that will cause changes in our immunity and our immune response to vaccines.’
The UK Government has purchased 17million doses of the Moderna vaccine although the first doses are not expected to arrive in the country until the spring.
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