UK does not approve of Covid coup for children ‘disappointing’, says health chief | Coronavirus
It is “surprising and disappointing” that the UK has not followed the lead of Canada, the US and the EU in approving the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 18 year olds to fight the latest increase coronavirus infections, according to the chief public health officer of the UK’s worst hotspot.
The criticism comes amid urgent calls for a “Twickenham-style vaccination program” in Blackburn. Kate Hollern, the Labor MP for the region, said the government made more than 10,000 vaccines available over the weekend in Twickenham but would only provide Blackburn with just 14,000 more doses over two weeks, despite additional requests.
Dominic Harrison, director of public health in Blackburn with Darwen, who has the UK’s highest infection rate at 390.1 per 100,000 population, said the national vaccination policy focused on age and vulnerability had ruled out those most at risk of infection. He argued that the immunization strategy had “not sufficiently addressed the inequalities” that fuel transmission.
Of the 21 people who had been admitted to hospital in the region on Friday, 13 were under 55. About half of all people hospitalized with Covid in hospitals in eastern Lancashire according to the NHS have not received vaccinations.
“It’s surprising and disappointing that we are not ahead of the game [in approving the vaccine], and of course, given that most of the cases of the new Delta (India) variant are in this younger cohort… the fact that we didn’t make that decision doesn’t help our response to the push, ”a Harrison said.
After the mass vaccination in Twickenham, west London, on Monday, where thousands of young people line up to receive their first dose in stages in relation to the Glastonbury festival, other public health officials from the north from England renewed their calls for surge vaccinations.
A public health official at a North West England hotspot praised “bravest public health directors” like those at Twickenham, who “just decided what was in the best interests of their population ”.
They said they had been prevented from leading similar mass events by the vaccine supply and an insistence on sticking to JCVI’s age criteria. “It’s just madness. I have never seen… so many types of backstage fights ”between local populations and those of national bodies such as Public Health England, they said.
“We need a Twickenham-type vaccination program in Blackburn urgently,” Hollern said. “The rapidly spreading infection in Blackburn is a direct result of the government’s inability to prioritize higher rate areas,” she added.
The UK’s MHRA was the first in the world to approve Covid vaccines that had been tested in large clinical trials for use in adults. Last week, former government adviser Dominic Cummings said “senior leaders” had expressed concerns that the vaccine task force had lost its “aggressive approach” since the departure of the “vaccine czar”. Kate Bingham.
Harrison said the region was “in talks” with the NHS to continue increasing its supplies, although he warned that maintaining this would only place the city in a “risk profile” similar to the areas wealthiest in the country.
“The vaccination program has not been well suited to areas of high transmission. We therefore urgently need this policy to change, ”he said.
Areas with higher percentages of frontline workers, multigenerational families in cramped housing, and low-income people who struggle to isolate themselves are vulnerable to higher rates and should receive more vaccines, a- he declared.
“If you have a third less transmission and half the death, but you receive the same amount of immunization for your population, you have massively greater protection for your population, because you have both a risk less of getting it in the first place and you have the same level of vaccine protection, ”he added.
He said that one of the consequences of the existing policy was “that areas of high and sustained transmission have experienced outbreaks of the variant, which is” neither useful for [Blackburn]nor for national efforts to contain the spread ”.
“What we need to do is learn to match the risk of these variants with effective local action, not catastrophize them.”