A doctor is raising money to launch a legal challenge against the Government’s decision to extend the gap between Covid doses to 12 weeks, Pulse has learned.
They are campaigning for the Government to ‘stop gambling with the health’ of at-risk individuals including healthcare workers and allow second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be given at 21 days.
The guidance changed on 31 December to say all second doses should be given after 12 weeks instead of three weeks to maximise the number of people protected in the shortest possible time frame.
London paediatrician Dr Michael Markiewicz launched a crowdfunder earlier this month to take out an injunction against the Government to ‘stop them delaying giving the second dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine’.
So far, the fundraiser has raised £23,479 of its £20,000 target.
The JustGiving page said: ‘This Government has decided that it knows better than the manufacturer of the vaccine. It says it makes its decisions based on science so I ask, show us the science (and don‘t extrapolate or massage data not specifically relevant).
‘If you can’t, then stop gambling with the health of all those who are considered at risk – such as the elderly, clinically extremely vulnerable and health workers – who were prioritised initially and for whom it would be essential to receive the second dose in the time recommended by the company to achieve full protection.’
Dr Markiewicz’ legal team has written twice to health secretary Matt Hancock, whose reply will ‘decide what further action we can take’, he said.
He told Pulse: ‘I was very upset that I could find no data about the fact that it was safe to delay the second dose. I asked Pfizer and the MHRA whether they had any data and I have not had a satisfactory answer to suggest that there is any data out there other than extrapolated data.
‘Eventually we may find that it is safe, but my first principle in medicine is do not do harm. How do we know we’re not harming the people who have had the first dose, the vaccine efficacy isn’t going to drop off and it doesn’t promote the introduction of new mutant viruses?’
He added: ‘You cannot base medicine on a political decision. Any treatment must have evidence or scientific data as its origin.’
Last week, Labour peer and former Government Voice of Older People Joan Bakewell also launched similar legal action to establish whether the Government policy is ‘lawful and safe’.
Dr Markiewicz told Pulse his legal team is meeting with that of Lady Bakewell, who has also raised almost £20,000, with a view to joining forces.
A petition also seeking to challenge the second dose delay has amassed more than 275,000 signatures.
A joint statement from Pfizer and BioNTech said: ‘The safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules as the majority of trial participants received the second dose within the window specified in the study design.
‘There is no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.’
On Friday, Pulse revealed that the Government’s change in policy had led to some vaccine vials being wasted rather than being given as second doses to NHS staff.
But NHS England has since clarified guidance to say sites should have a ‘reserve list’ of people who can turn up for their vaccination at short notice to avoid any wastage.
It has also opened up for vaccination of patients within the JCVI’s third and fourth prioritisation cohorts, as of yesterday.