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BRITONS DENIED: Passengers denied entry to Malta for having the AstraZeneca vaccine

BRITONS DENIED: Passengers denied entry to Malta for having the AstraZeneca vaccine


Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britons who have received doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India should not be prevented from travelling.

The Daily Telegraph reported passengers were barred from boarding a flight from Manchester Airport to Malta because they had been given the vaccine made by the Serum Institute.

Mr Shapps said the Government would be taking up the issue with Maltese authorities which do not accept the Indian-made vaccine.

“It is not right and it shouldn’t be happening,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“The medicines agency, the MHRA, have been very clear that it doesn’t matter whether the AstraZeneca you have is made here or the Serum Institute in India, it is absolutely the same product, it provides exactly the same levels of protection from the virus.

“So we will certainly speak to our Maltese colleagues to point all this out. Obviously it is up to them what they do. But we will be making the scientific point in the strongest possible terms there is no difference, we don’t recognise any difference.”

Reducing the gap between doses

There is no “gain” in reducing the interval between the first and second doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, one expert has said.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told Times Radio: “We’ve looked at this data very carefully over the last few days and it is quite clear, from the AstraZeneca vaccine, there is absolutely no doubt that the longer interval gives you much better protection.

“But we concentrated on the Pfizer vaccine because of course that’s one that’s being given to younger people at the moment.

“And it’s quite clear from antibody T cells studies that you get much lower response, and poorer quality memory response, with the shorter interval – that’s a four-week interval compared to an eight- to 12-week interval.

“And the actual real data vaccine effectiveness studies show that there is a lower vaccine efficacy against symptomatic disease with shorter intervals compared to longer intervals.

“And then we got the modellers to look at this and, actually, the number of infections will rise if we reduce the dose.

“We just don’t think there’s any good short, or longer term gain by shortening the interval.”

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