- Dr. Anthony Fauci justified the US vaccine strategy in an interview Monday.
- He said officials will stick with the recommended schedules for each dose.
- Some countries, like the UK, are delaying second doses to maximize how many are protected.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci said the US won’t delay the second coronavirus dose, despite promising signs in places like the UK which are adopting that strategy.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post that the US would give the second vaccine dose quickly after the first, as the makers recommend.
The case for delaying second doses is that it allows a greater number of people to get a single dose, which could give more widespread protection at the expense of fully vaccinating each individual as fast as possible.
In response, Fauci said that delaying the second shot could leave people with less protection, encourage new variants of the virus to develop.
Fauci admitted that “There’s risks on either side” when considering whether to delay.
He also said that publicly changing the strategy part-way through could discourage people from getting vaccinated at all.
“We’re telling people [two shots] is what you should do … and then we say, ‘Oops, we changed our mind’?”
“I think that would be a messaging challenge, to say the least.”
But he was not critical of the UK’s strategy, which involves prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible, with the second dose being given around 12 weeks after the first.
He said he spoke with health officials in the UK, and understands it. “We both agreed that both of our approaches were quite reasonable.”
The UK and the US have approved and are using some different vaccines.
Both have approved the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The US has also approved the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines, while the UK has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Data suggests that the vaccines the UK is using are highly effective after one dose.
Public Health England said this week that a single shot of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalization among people aged over 80.
The Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose, which means there can be no debate over the vaccination strategy.
Fauci had warned in January that delaying a second dose could risk the spread of mutated coronavirus variants.
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