Technicians from the Ministry of Health support the Ministry’s plans to delay the administration of the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to those under 80 years of age, with the aim of increasing the protected population with at least a first injection. Specifically, the second dose would be administered between six and eight weeks after the first. Currently, it is inoculated at 21 days in the case of Pfizer, and at 28 in the case of Moderna.
The results of the United Kingdom, which in January decided to delay the second doses, “support this strategy, and there are already several countries, such as Italy, France or Canada, that are following this line,” explained yesterday the spokesman for the Ministry, Jaime Pérez . In fact, those responsible for the regional vaccination program already tried to make the administration of the second puncture more flexible with health personnel at the end of January, when the vials arrived in the Region with droppers. However, they were met with rejection by many professionals, who recalled that the Pfizer technical data sheet does not contemplate a delay in the immunization schedule.
Now, however, the committee of experts that advises the Ministry is betting on postponing the second doses, and argues this with the results obtained in other countries. The first dose of Pfizer offers a protection of about 80%, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States
The experts have applied a mathematical model with an imaginary Spanish city of 500,000 inhabitants hit by the fourth wave, and in which it is chosen in a first case to maintain the current separation from 21 to 28 days, or increase it to 56. «Comparing Both strategies, and in a situation of a potential fourth epidemic wave, the separation of the doses achieves a reduction between 22% and 26% of infections, between 26% and 31% of hospitalizations and between 30% and 32 % of deaths, depending on the magnitude of the epidemic wave “, say the Ministry technicians.
“The technical presentation has been quite categorical in the benefit of a separation of 6 or 8 weeks,” summarized yesterday the spokesman for the Ministry, Jaime Pérez.
The umpteenth change
In any case, this change, which will be addressed today in the Public Health Commission, represents the umpteenth change in the vaccination strategy. It is an unexpected swerve, because on Wednesday of last week, the Minister herself, Carolina Darias, unceremoniously rejected in the Interterritorial Council the request of Madrid and Catalonia to extend the inoculation of Pfizer and Moderna to 42 days, a practice that already has the approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Carolina Darias ruled out this possibility because, as she said, the increase in the arrival of vaccines during the second trimester made the postponement of the second doses unnecessary.
However, now everything has changed. The document sent to the community experts by the general director of Public Health, Pilar Azcárraga, defends the benefits of separating the inoculations. The measure “will allow increasing the number of people protected with a first dose of vaccine without delaying too much the achievement of the full schedule, which ensures maximum protection in the medium and long term.” According to the new Health position, “an extended interval between doses results in higher levels of antibodies and a longer duration of protection.”
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