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Baroness Dame Joan Bakewell continues to seek response to questions over Pfizer vaccine dose delays

Baroness Dame Joan Bakewell and Dr Michael Markiewicz continue to seek meaningful Government response to questions on Pfizer vaccine dose delays

Posted on 01 March 2021

Joan Bakewell, journalist and peer, and Dr Michael Markiewicz, consultant paediatrician, have voiced their disappointment with the Government’s responses to their legal challenges to the controversial decision to delay the second dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech vaccine from three weeks to 12 weeks.

Both independently launched legal campaigns and have both received huge support from members of the public, healthcare professionals and scientists.

To date, the Government has refused to publicly disclose any relevant data relating to trials to assess the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine up to 12 weeks or explain the process and basis upon which that decision was made. Nor has the Government given any public indication as to whether Pfizer and BioNTech agreed with its decision to delay the second dose for that period of time.

This is of particular concern given Pfizer and BioNTech's repeated public statements expressing a preference for three-week dosing regime, which is also consistent with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency. The Government's approach is still exceptional compared to other countries and there are serious questions which remain unanswered. Although new studies are emerging by the day, many are based on data from Israel, which maintained a 21-day dosing schedule and recent studies question the efficacy of the first dose after six weeks.

Joan Bakewell stated:

“It is fantastic that so many people are receiving the first dose of the vaccine. But people still wait to hear from the Government with the evidence for delaying the second dose to 12 weeks and whether or not this was agreed by Pfizer. The Government is failing to be honest and open with the public.”

Dr Markiewicz stated:

“Following extensive yet largely unsuccessful attempts to engage with the Government, we remain extremely concerned by the lack of publicly available relevant data relating to its decision to significantly delay the administration of the second jab of the Pfizer BioNTech mRNA vaccine from three to 12 weeks after the first dose.

“My prime concern is for the Government to share information with the public to achieve openness and transparency about the data on which the decision is based, and to reassure the public so as to achieve increased public confidence in the vaccination programme and maximum take-up. My aim is to support rather than disrupt the heroic and tireless efforts of the scientific community and the NHS in developing and administering vaccines.”

Baroness Dame Joan Bakewell is represented by Leigh Day solicitor Stephanie Hill while Dr Michael Markiewicz is represented by another law firm.

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Joan Bakewell
Human rights Covid-19 Health Coronavirus

Baroness Dame Joan Bakewell raises concerns about decision to delay second COVID-19 vaccine

The journalist and television presenter, Baroness Dame Joan Bakewell is questioning the UK government’s decision to delay the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

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Stephanie Hill

Stephanie Hill is a partner in the human rights department at Leigh Day.