News & Media

NIAC should examine AstraZeneca gap between doses in light of new variants

25 May 2021

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Northern Ireland
  • 60-70 year olds will be waiting 3 months for greater protection.
  • First dose of AstraZeneca only provides 33% protection.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Labour leader Alan Kelly asked that NIAC be requested by the government to look again at the current vaccination advice on AstraZeneca especially for those aged over 60 in light of the new variant first identified in India.

Pointing to Britain’s decision to shorten the waiting time for the second dose of the vaccine, Deputy Kelly said we must ensure that those waiting up to three months here to be fully vaccinated are protected.

Deputy Kelly said:

“I have raised the issue of the spacing of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the Minister for Health several times and the evidence that has emerged about the new B1617 variant is a cause of serious concern, especially for people aged 60 to 70.

“According to the study carried out by Public Health England, data for this variant shows that 2 doses of Astra Zeneca provide just under 60% protection and for Pfizer it is 87.9% but what is really worrying for people though is that the first dose of AstraZeneca and Pfizer only provides 33% protection.

“Those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine must wait at least 12 weeks to get their second dose of the vaccine – a full three months. In light of the evolving situation regarding the impact of this new variant, NIAC must be convened to examine the data.

“There has been a huge surge and spread of cases associated with this variant in the UK so we do need to take this seriously.

“It is a cause of serious concern for people especially those aged 60 to 70 and I have had a large number of people in touch about this. This means that of all of the cohorts vaccinated, those in the 60-70 year old bracket will have the lowest level of protection, the longest waiting time for a follow up dose, and the greatest risk of ending up in hospital.

“NIAC must look again at the vaccination strategy for this cohort. We cannot afford to delay on taking a decision to protect our people. Government must look abroad at best practice, like what they are doing in Britain, and consider shortening the wait time for the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Otherwise, we are at risk of this emerging variant catching hold in Ireland.”