Doctors' leaders accused of political 'showboating' as split emerges among medics over second Covid jab

DOCTORS’ leaders were last night accused of political “showboating” — as a split among medics over the speed of the vaccine roll-out emerged.

A leading medical union said the 12-week gap between two Pfizer doses was not backed up by the science and must be no more than six weeks.

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The British Medical Association said the UK was “increasingly isolated internationally” with its jabs strategy proving “evermore difficult to justify”.

But former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “To question the strategy of government scientists is deeply unhelpful.”

He added: “I simply don’t believe that all those hard-working GPs who have been desperately trying to get people vaccinated will be in the slightest way supportive of the BMA’s criticism.

“All this unnecessary political point-scoring will alarm vulnerable people and at worst will undermine the vaccine roll-out.

"It all smacks of showboating.”

Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick said the Government was following the “very clear advice” of the UK’s four medical officers, including Professor Chris Whitty, to ensure millions more people receive the “high level of protection” the jab offered.

Public Health England’s Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “The more people that are protected against this virus, the less opportunity it has to get the upper hand.”

Prof Whitty has said the delay from three to 12 weeks for a second jab was a public health decision.

However, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said no other country was following the UK’s lead in delays to the second dose.

The World Health Organisation has recommended the second dose only be delayed to a six-week maximum in exceptional circumstances.

Pfizer say it should be given three to four weeks after the first dose.

Last night, a BMA spokesman said it was calling on Prof Whitty to urgently review the UK’s position of second doses after 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, Professor Graham Medley — part of the Government’s New and Emerging Virus Threats Advisory Group — said it was an “open question” whether the new Covid variant was more dangerous in terms of mortality.

He said: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”

Boris Johnson said on Friday there was evidence the variant was linked to “a higher degree of mortality”.

A further 1,348 UK Covid deaths were reported yesterday.

 

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