Queensland virologist and program director at Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute Professor Nigel McMillan has warned a United Kingdom decision to extend the time between doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from three weeks to 12 could compromise the effectiveness of the vaccine across the globe.
“This is a recipe for disaster in terms of partial immunity and will allow the virus to experience the vaccine and potentially escape. So I think this is a rather foolish idea and really something that the UK authorities shouldn’t be doing,” he said.
“This decision by the UK is something that will affect the rest of the world. This allows the virus to grow in partially vaccinated people and potentially mutate and so this could spread around the world with vaccine-resistant strains of coronavirus.”
However, he welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to start the vaccine rollout a month earlier than previously planned.
“I fully agree with the Government going through the right process of full authorisation and getting all the data in, and if they can accommodate an earlier start with that data then I’m all for it,” Professor McMillan said.
“We’ve seen a rollout occurring now in a number of countries with the Pfizer vaccine and so any issues will have come to the fore by now if they were going to be common. The Oxford vaccine has only just started being given in the UK so we’ll get a little bit of a lead time in with that one as well, so I think we still have the advantage of waiting.”
Reporting by Alex Easton