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expert reaction to JCVI’s updated interim advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have updated their interim advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination.


Prof Jon Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Infectious Diseases, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, said:

“The publication of an initial discussion of how a COVID vaccine would be rolled out is a welcome and important first step. Sensibly, JCVI (the government’s independent advisory body on the use of vaccines) makes the point that this advice is preliminary and may well change as further information becomes available.

“At present their advice is basically that high risk individuals in health and social care settings would be the top priority, followed sequentially by groups of older people, descending in stages of 5 year intervals (so, first 80 year olds, then 75 year olds etc). On the basis of what we know at the moment, this is logical and reasonable. However, it does not address directly other high risk groups, for example those with serious underlying diseases that make them more vulnerable or people from certain ethnic groups who are also more vulnerable.

“The really tricky issue though will be if the first vaccine to become available offers only limited protection, and (as is certainly possible) is only weakly effective in older people. As JCVI say, this may significantly alter the priority ranking. And even more tricky will be deciding whether a protective efficacy of, say 30% in those over 75, means that the vaccine should not be offered to that group or indeed whether having that vaccine might then be a contraindication to receiving a second, different, but more effective vaccine 6 months later.

“These questions are clearly also in the mind of JCVI and the answers will ned to wait until we start to get hard data coming out of the vaccine trials.”


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