Medically vulnerable NHS hospital staff are being made guinea pigs in an involuntary “clinical trial” because second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are being withheld, HCSA the hospital doctors’ union has warned.
The union is urging Secretary of State Matt Hancock to intervene to immediately reverse delays to second doses of the Pfizer vaccine for NHS staff awho have seen appointments planned for within 28 days cancelled or rescheduled.
Official guidance revised suddenly on 30th December scrapped an evidence-based 28-day target between first and second jabs and replaced it with an untested 12-week wait. Hospital workers whose second dose was scheduled after 4th January were left in limbo with many still awaiting news of the timing of the critical booster injection.
HCSA is warning that there is no data to confirm that a single dose of this novel vaccine will afford sufficient protection to individuals who in many cases are working in high-risk hospital environments on the front line of the fight against Covid-19.
That data will only be gained once the outcomes for those who have so far received a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine are studied.
In a strongly worded letter to the minister HCSA President Dr Claudia Paoloni warns that the arguments for withholding the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine “do not bear scrutiny” and “appear reckless in the context of significantly increased transmissibility, extremely high hospital admissions, and the need to protect and retain front-line staffing levels.”
“HCSA is concerned that the current approach will place clinically vulnerable front-line hospital staff at unnecessary risk of illness and mortality from Covid-19,” she adds.
“In the absence of any firm data, vulnerable NHS staff who agreed to their first dose on the basis that it was part of a full course have, in effect, been entered into a potentially dangerous clinical trial without consent.”
Commenting on the issue following the dispatch of the letter, Dr Paoloni said: “There is now still a window of opportunity to correct this mistake.
“This is a problem which specifically centres on the Pfizer vaccine, whose manufacturers are sticking by their recommendations of a 21-day window between first and second jabs based on the trial data. The NHS originally placed a 28-day maximum on the doses.
“The World Health Organisation has just issued its own revised guidance and it advises a maximum 42-day gap based on the evidence available.
“There is not a shred of evidence to justify withholding maximum protection to vulnerable front-line hospital staff at a time when they are being thrown into a full-force Covid storm, placing their own health at risk to treat patients.
“The government must act and reverse this short-sighted policy.”
Download the letter in PDF format