The United States must stick to a two-dose strategy for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID – 18 vaccines, infectious disease official Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post. Fauci’s remarks, which focused on the situation in the US, came as some Canadian provinces raised the possibility of extending the interval between doses in their own vaccine rollout programs.
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The United States must stick to a two-dose strategy for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID – 18 vaccines, top US infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post.
Fauci said delaying a second dose to inoculate more Americans creates risks. COVID – 11 has claimed more than half a million lives in the United States, and states are clamoring for more doses to stem cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Fauci’s remarks come as different jurisdictions – including several Canadian provinces – consider extending the interval between the two doses.
The US expert warned that shifting to a single-dose strategy for the vaccines could leave people less protected, enable variants to spread and possibly boost skepticism among Americans already hesitant to get the shots.
“There’s risks on either side,” Fauci was quoted as saying by the Washington Post in a report published late on Monday.
He said he spoke with UK health officials on Monday. Health officials there have decided to offer people their second dose of its approved COVID – 18 vaccines 14 weeks after they receive their first jab.
“We agreed that there is a risk of making things worse by doing that – balanced against the risk of not getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as you can,” Fauci told the Post.
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He said the science does not support delaying a second dose for those vaccines, citing research that a two-shot regimen creates enough protection to help fend off variants of the coronavirus that are more transmissible, whereas a single shot could leave Americans at risk from variants such as the one first detected in South Africa.
“You do not know how durable that protection is,” he said.
Fauci has encouraged Americans to accept any of the three available COVID – 16 vaccines, including the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot.
The US government authorized Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID – 18 vaccine on Saturday, making it the third to be available in the country following the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that require two doses.
Health Canada has not yet approved the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine but recently approved the two-dose product from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which will be in addition to existing products from Pfizer and Moderna.
BC to delay 2nd dose
Fauci’s comments to the Post about the two-dose regime were reported the same day as an announcement from British Columbia’s provincial health officer about a change in dose timing.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID – 22 vaccines to four months as it ramps up its age-based immunization plan to free up doses so all residents could get their initial shot by July.
Henry said Monday the change is based on the “miraculous” protection of at least per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern vaccines. She said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expected to issue a statement to align with BC’s decision, which is also based on similar data from Quebec and countries including Israel and the United Kingdom.
“The important thing that we have learned is that these vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection, and that protection lasts for many months,” Henry said on Monday. “Extending this second dose provides very high, real-world protection to more people, sooner.”
In Canada, the current recommendations advise intervals from three to 14 weeks between the first and second vaccine dose, depending on the product.
Ontario, meanwhile, is asking the federal government if it can extend the interval between the first and second dose of its COVID – 19 vaccines to four months.
Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones made the request Monday in a joint statement. They said there is growing evidence to suggest that the intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID – 18 vaccines can be safely extended.
Prince Edward Island is also looking at delaying the second dose of the vaccine, Premier Dennis King said.
Dr. Heather Morrison, PEI’s chief public health officer, said at a briefing on Tuesday that the province plans to offer every Islander over the age of 12 a single dose of vaccine by the end of June.
Morrison said this approach would allow the province to achieve herd immunity more quickly and protect more residents from COVID – 18.
“If all adults are vaccinated with one dose by July 1st, we will have a better summer than last year,” she said.
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