David Davis: Chris Whitty's vaccine delay 'is unwise - and not the first unwise judgement'

1 January 2021, 13:03 | Updated: 1 January 2021, 13:30

Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Former Brexit secretary David Davis has said the decision to delay giving people their second coronavirus vaccine jabs is an "unwise judgement" from Professor Chris Whitty, suggesting it was "not the first" from him.

Mr Davis, who was the first person to hold the role for Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, told LBC he believed the logic behind the decisions were based upon worries "the system itself will be slower than the government predicts".

He told LBC's Iain Dale on Friday: "This is a way of mitigating that. I think it's a bad idea," later arguing that an answer would be to "put more resource into it and go faster."

The Conservative MP then went on to say he understood the chief medical officer's reasoning, but added that he thought there would be some "concern" from GPs administering the vaccine.

"He'll create irritation on the part of doctors, GPs [...] because they have got a duty of care to their own patients," he said.

The former Brexit secretary said there should be more resources applied to the vaccine roll-out to make the process faster
The former Brexit secretary said there should be more resources applied to the vaccine roll-out to make the process faster. Picture: PA

The New Year's Day comments come after all four of the UK's chief medical officers (CMOs) said the spreading out of initial jabs while delaying the boosters would be more likely to have an "optimal public health impact" than otherwise.

In a joint statement, the CMOs stressed the first dose gives people "substantial initial protection" by boosting them from 0% to 70% of protection. The second dose for people would, therefore, only be increasingly "marginally on protection from severe disease".

"Whilst the NHS, through all of your work, has so far vaccinated over one million UK patients with a first dose, approximately 30 million UK patients and health and social care workers eligible for vaccination in Phase 1 remain totally unprotected and many are distressed or anxious about the wait for their turn," the statement continued.

"These unvaccinated people are far more likely to end up severely ill, hospitalised on in some cases dying without vaccine."

READ MORE: Delaying second Covid vaccine doses 'will save lives' - UK's chief medical officers

Mr Davis, meanwhile, said 70% did not equal safety, arguing a delay in doses would not be good enough.

He said: "I think there is a qualitative virtue of getting people to the point of feeling safe and 70% safe is not safe in the modern world.

"There will come a point to stop all the lockdowns and that won't happen until a significant majority of the population after safe from the disease."

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An NHS spokesperson said on Thursday that the update to guidances on administering second doses of the vaccine would potentially save "thousands of lives".

"The NHS immediately informed GPs on the day the revised instruction was given, with extra financial and logistical support now being provided to help ensure thousands more receive the vaccine quickly."