European countries delay giving second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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Jan. 6 (UPI) — An increasing number of European countries are following Britain’s lead in delaying the second shot of the coronavirus vaccine as cases continue to spike around the continent.

Britain decided Dec. 30 to extend the timeframe for the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to “within 12 weeks” of the first one rather than “in as short a time as possible” so it can vaccine at greater number of people with the first dose.

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Denmark followed suit Tuesday, saying it will delay administering the second dose of the vaccine by 12 weeks as well.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is probing the possibility of delaying the second vaccination in Germany, too. The European Medicines Agency, though, argued against the move, saying it departs from proven clinical trials.

However, the World Health Organization and other medical professionals in Europe said it believes the 12-week delay should be an option.

“Since the interval between the two vaccinations can very likely vary within wide limits and protection is already very good after one shot, it is certainly worth considering giving preference to the first injection in the event of a vaccine shortage,” Thomas Mertens, chairman of Germany’s Permanent Vaccination Commission, said.