Health chiefs decline to say how many people in Northamptonshire have had second dose of vaccine
"We will be releasing more data and numbers as we go forward [...] but that isn't something I'm going to put into the public domain today"
Northamptonshire's health chiefs have declined to reveal how many people in the county have had their second jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.
A press conference on Friday (January 7) announced that 25,000 jabs have so far been given out in Northamptonshire, out of a target of 135,000 by mid-February.But despite repeated questions from this newspaper, health chiefs declined to explain how many people have so far had their second dose of the long-awaited vaccine.
The policy has been hotly debated by the organisations like the British Medical Association, Public Health England and the international community.
Chief Executive of NHS Northamptonshire CCG Toby Sanders said on Friday: "It's an understandable question.
"Obviously we've moved over the last week nationally to a different position in terms of the second dose. We are now consistently across the county working to the 12-week interval between first and second dose.
"A number of patients will have received their second dose already when it was initiated very much at the early end.
"We will be releasing more data and numbers as we go forward over the next couple of weeks but that isn't something I'm going to put into the public domain today."
The long-awaited vaccination programme that began last month requires every patient to receive a second dose to ensure maximum efficiency.
At a visit to a vaccination centre yesterday, PM Boris Johnson told reporters that 2million people had so far been vaccinated but "2.4million jabs" had been done, suggesting around 400,000 people have received a second dose.
25,000 jabs have been given out in Northamptonshire, which covers half of the county's over-80 population.
The decision to push the second dose back to up to 12 weeks has sparked controversy because the trials conducted for both the Pfizer vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine did not widely test the ability of the vaccine with that kind of time frame.
General principles in vaccinology indicate that a greater time frame between doses of a vaccine increase its efficacy, but international communities say the UK government is "taking a gamble" with the delay.
The policy has been criticised by the World Health Organisation, while head of the Oxford Vaccine Group Andrew Pollard and chief investigator into the trial of this vaccine agreed with the approach.
A spokesperson for Northamptonshire's Covid-19 response team said: "The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection.
"This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives. The vaccination programme in Northamptonshire is now operating fully in line with this national position."
Additionally, the press conference unveiled that a mass vaccination centre in Northamptonshire was "80 per cent" ready to launch in an unspecified venue - provided the county can secure enough of the vaccine to operate it.