Public Health England will call upon GPs as it launches a study into the effects of Covid vaccination, including whether it stops virus transmission.
The study, due to begin once the ‘earliest eligible groups have been offered a full course of vaccination’, will see PHE implementing ‘enhanced surveillance of a subset of cases in vaccine eligible groups’.
‘Clinical questionnaires will be completed with the case and their GP or hospital clinician on vaccination history, past medical history, symptoms and outcomes,’ a PHE strategy document said.
These will be accompanied by repeat nose and throat swabs as well as acute and convalescent serum and oral fluid samples, it added.
GPs may also be contacted for hospitalised patients’ vaccination history as part of vaccine safety monitoring, it said.
The study, which could report some findings by the end of March at the earliest, aims to find out whether vaccination prevents virus transmission; its efficacy after just one dose; how long protection lasts; as well as how the vaccine works in people with underlying conditions
Covid vaccinations in pregnancy – whether inadvertent or intentional – will also be monitored, it added.
The document said: ‘This will inform policy decisions around whether to prioritise vaccination of those with worse outcomes or those who transmit more.’
PHE will also study vaccine uptake via existing monitoring systems and data extracted from NHS Digital’s new national vaccination register and call/recall system – the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS).
It comes as, speaking yesterday in a House of Lords debate on vaccines, health minister Lord Bethell said: ‘The frustrating truth is that whilst the efficacy of the vaccine has been tested on hundreds of thousands in clinical trials and we can lean on that data extremely well, the transmissibility of those who are immune is not clear yet.
‘It is possible, although not proven at the moment, that those who are themselves immune are not sterile, are vectors of infection.’
The news comes as the Government’s vaccine delivery plan, published on Monday, said GPs will help deliver ‘at least’ two million vaccines a week in England by the end of January.