The priority list for the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines – and how they will be deployed

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How will Pfizer vaccine storage requirements affect the program?

The vaccine must be stored at -70 ° C to be effective, which means that it can only be delivered to general practitioners who have the facilities to keep it at that temperature.

It will be difficult to administer in nursing homes. Assistant Chief Medicine Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “This is a complex product. It is not a yogurt that can be taken out of the refrigerator and put back in place several times. “

The vaccine will be rolled out to elderly residents in nursing homes with more than 50 registered beds in England in the coming weeks.

It is understood that the vaccine batches are broken down into doses of 75, and the focus over the next two weeks will be on elderly residents and staff in homes with more than 50 beds to avoid waste.

The Oxford vaccine does not need to be stored in such cold conditions – it can be stored at temperatures between 2 ° C and 8 ° C.

This means that it could be more mobile than the Pfizer jab and therefore more easily deployed in care homes of different sizes and in private homes for individual doses.

Experts believe the Oxford vaccine will be easier to deploy beyond formal healthcare facilities, in part because it does not need to be stored at temperatures as cold as the other approved vaccine.

Read more: How the UK will get Pfizer’s Covid vaccine from the factory to the patient

Will people get vaccines 24 hours a day?

Perhaps. Government ministers are currently facing pressure to expand the immunization program to offer “24 hour” injections, meaning that doses can be administered 24 hours a day.

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Offering vaccinations overnight will speed up the rollout and allow the government to meet its goal of vaccinating 32 million people – 60% of Britain’s adult population by the spring, announced on January 11.

On the same day as the announcement, ministers were asked why the injections are only given during the day, as other countries, such as Israel, which has already vaccinated a fifth of its population, continue to offer injections. overnight.

What other problems does the immunization program face?

Two of the first NHS staff to receive the vaccine suffered from allergic reactions and the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency warned that the vaccine should not be given to people with a history of allergic reactions’ significant ”.

Professor Stephen Powis said this is common for new vaccines and staff have recovered well.

On December 13, news that up to 40 percent of nursing home staff may not have had an injection sparked new fears that the vaccine rollout might be successful.

This research, from the National Care Association, suggested that as many as 20 percent of healthcare workers are adamant they won’t get the hit. In addition, 20 percent of other care workers are uncertain and may follow their example.

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Nadra Ahmed, a representative for the charity, revealed that “between 17 and 20 percent of service workers say they definitely won’t have it, and then you have the others waiting to see” .

“So we’re looking at potentially 40% of those who decide not to have it.”

Progress on the vaccination program could be delayed as retired doctors will still have to complete 15 forms before they are allowed to participate in the mass coronavirus vaccination program, despite claims by Boris Johnson that the paperwork had been done. reduced.

The Prime Minister told MPs on January 6 that he had been assured by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that “all these obstacles and all these unnecessary pettigres have been removed”.

However, after being approached by the Telegraph, the Department of Health and Welfare admitted that only six of the training modules had been removed, leaving 15 different requirements still in place.

Vulnerable people with rare diseases are also forced to wait for a coronavirus vaccine due to an algorithm used to determine risk, according to a member of the expert committee advising the health service.

The QCovid algorithm was used by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) to identify who was most likely to die if they caught coronavirus and therefore who should be prioritized in the government’s vaccine rollout .

Although vulnerable people were given priority in government rollout of the vaccine, Committee member Jeremy Brown, professor of respiratory infection at University College London, said the QCovid algorithm was likely to underestimate the risk that the coronavirus poses to people with rare diseases.

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“There are limits to the retail,” Mr. Brown said. “Cancer data is grouped together like all cancers rather than different cancers, and it’s very likely that some cancers are much more problematic than others.

He added that people who suffer from rare diseases and who have successfully protected themselves are also unlikely to appear in the data.

What about the new variant of the coronavirus? Will the vaccine still protect us?

The South African variant of the virus has threatened to undermine the vaccine and testing gains of recent months.

The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) expects vaccine adjustments to be needed as it has already started examining how quickly a modified jab could be approved, and Matt Hancock said that he was “very worried”.

Sir Patrick Vallance told a press conference on January 5 that it is possible that the South African variant of the coronavirus could have an effect on the effectiveness of vaccines but that it is unlikely to “abolish “their effect.

The chief scientific adviser said that a possible change in the shape of the virus in the variant “theoretically gives it a somewhat higher risk of not being recognized” by the immune system.

“There is no indication yet that this is the case. This is being examined very actively,” he said.

Read more: Analysis: Why the South African strain is so worrying

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