The UK can boast, for the moment, of the effectiveness of its vaccination plan. More than 15 million people have already received the first dose of the vaccine, that is, about 19% of the total population. If these data are compared with the average of the countries of the European Union, which is 3.1%, the advantage is kilometers. But it is that not even the state that is most advanced, which is Malta with 8%, comes close to the British data. In Spain, this percentage is slightly higher than the EU average, with 3.4% of the population vaccinated.
However, to analyze these data, they have placed you as the third country in the world with the most doses supplied per inhabitantIt should be taken into account that the Boris Johnson executive has carried out a vaccination plan radically different from that of the rest of the countries. In most states the first dose is given to a patient and after three weeks the second is injected. But in the UK it doesn’t work like that.
As in all countries, the British established risk groups with preference for vaccination. They have been receiving the first dose -mainly of the Pfizer vaccine, but also of AstraZeneca- at a very high rate, although nevertheless the second will not be injected until three months have elapsed, instead of the 21 days established by the pharmaceutical companies. In this way, they enjoy a temporary immunity to the virus that allows to decrease the rates of infections and deaths substantially.
This measure has critics and detractors in equal measure within the healthcare world. Dr. María Grau Magaña, specialist in Preventive Medicine and professor at the University of Barcelona, points out to 20Minutos that “what is being done in the UK is not respecting the technical data sheet that accompanies the vaccines and that establishes their maximum effectiveness “, so he understands that it is a “risky” tactic.
However, the World Health Organization has backed the decision of the British authorities based on the results they are achieving. According to research from the University of Oxford, the death rate in those over 80 has fallen 32% since the January peak, and so has 14% in those under 65. British officials blame this decline on the effect of vaccines.
Tom Walker, a 24-year-old British student living in London, tells this newspaper that he is “excited” about how the vaccination plan is progressing, but admits some nervousness because “United Kingdom it is going contrary to the rest of the countries that surround it and this has not always turned out well. “
The data reflected in the United Kingdom is especially surprising if one takes into account that it has been characterized since the beginning of the pandemic by being in tow, like so many others. It was the first country in Europe to cross the threshold of 100,000 dead, his tracking system failed miserably and he announced very restrictive measures for Christmas just days after stating that he was going to allow family reunions. But now all this is part of the past and those over 65 years of age and those citizens over 16 with clinical problems are being vaccinated.
A risky vaccination tactic but accompanied by great infrastructure and confinement
The situation when the vaccination plan began in the UK was very worrying. After detecting the new strain of the virus, dubbed the British strain, infections skyrocketed and Scenes of authentic collapse were experienced in hospitals during the first days of 2021 and the end of 2020. Boris Johnson’s executive then decided to establish a confinement similar to that of last March, although with some exceptions.
But the vaccination plan was studied in detail. They began their planning in summer, when the vaccine did not yet exist, anticipating that it would arrive sooner rather than later. Simon Stevens, the director of the National Public Health System (NHS) in England, was put in charge of the program and devised an effective plan to deliver the vaccine, mainly using primary care networks and at a very high rate, with workers injecting patients for 12 hours every day of the week.
In all, 30,000 NHS workers and up to 100,000 volunteers are carrying out the plan. The country has set up 1,500 vaccination centers, including some football stadiums, and the army is collaborating in the distribution and maintenance of the doses. Tom Walker, who has not yet received the dose but his grandmother has, admits that he has been surprised by the media deployment: “I was impressed by seeing people getting vaccinated on soccer fields and pavilions. From my grandmother’s experience, it gives the impression of that everything is measured and calculated efficiently. There are many people behind it and it is hopeful. ”
The UK has a lot at stake: “The consequences of being wrong can be dire”
Boris Johnson and his government team know how important it is for their plan to go ahead in a positive way. After closing the Brexit deal on January 1, their future is especially uncertain and highly dependent on vaccines. If they manage to maintain effectiveness by allowing 21 weeks to pass instead of 3, some forecasts suggest that by summer they would have obtained herd immunity. If, on the contrary, the efficacy of the doses is lost due to the time elapsed between them, more vaccines must be purchased and supplied than are planned, slowing down the entire process for an indeterminate time.
“They maximize. Their goal is that the maximum possible population receives the first dose, which of course has a certain effect, but they do not comply with the vaccination schedule. In addition, there are pharmaceutical companies that have warned that if you wait too long between doses the virus can generate resistance. The plan may work, but we rely on scientific evidence and there are none that demonstrate the effectiveness of vaccines with three months between the first and second doses, “says Dr. Grau.
Tom Walker, who has no qualms about admitting that he was not in favor of Brexit, points out that “the country cannot afford to take false steps” and is aware that the United Kingdom has chosen the riskiest option. Thus, “I want to trust that they know what they are doing because the consequences of being wrong with this matter can be dire “, the student concludes.
Finally, time will give or take away the reason for the United Kingdom and those responsible. For the moment, they are below 10,000 new daily cases in a clear downward trend. Meanwhile, Spain and the rest of the EU countries continue with their plan, complying with the guidelines of the pharmaceutical companies. Thus, despite the fact that the percentage of the population with the first dose is very high in the United Kingdom, 19%, which has received both is very small, only 0.80%, while in Spain it is 2.14%.