'People must not think they're invincible after Covid jab', warns top clinician

21 January 2021, 15:52

By Fiona Jones

"People must not think they're invincible after Covid jab," warns Deputy Chair of the JCVI Professor Anthony Harnden.

He told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty: "There is such a high prevalence of the virus at the moment...even with two doses of the vaccination it does not give you 100% protection.

"Also we don't know if the vaccine prevents you transmitting to others.

"It's really really key that people don't feel that they can abandon everything and run wild after they've been vaccinated."

Professor Harnden pointed also out that the public health imperative is to vaccinate as many people as possible, which is why the time between the first and second dose has been lengthened from the original time period.

If every person is vaccinated twice before moving on to others, then a whole group will be denied protection in any way - this is why there is some protection in a first dose but not total.

"Really important data will emerge once we've vaccinated millions of people, as we're doing at the moment...if we need to make adjustments we will announce it but we're working on the best evidence base that we can at the moment," he said.

Top virologist Dr Chris Smith had a similar and strong message after "alarming" data emerged about the Pfizer vaccine from Israel on Tuesday.

Dr Chris told LBC that the data showed the potency of the first dose is "not as strong as they had hoped or Pfizer had suggested."

This is because there are a "significant number of people who have got infected after that first dose."

Dr Chris continued: "What's not clear is if those infections cropped up just a bit soon after the first dose of the vaccine so it wouldn't really have had the chance to work or whether they really were cropping up a bit later on.

"Why this matters is, of course, in this country the decision has been made to lengthen the period between the first and the second dose in order to vaccinate as many people as possible."So we're going to be looking with interest at what Israel has found in order to find out whether we need to change our strategy or whether or not we should be OK."