New research conducted by scientists at Cambridge University shows that delaying the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine could leave the elderly at risk of catching the South African variant.
The research shows that by having just one dose of the vaccine might not be enough to stimulate the immune system to produce enough antibodies to kill the virus.
The preliminary data, which has not yet been peer reviewed shows that only after receiving the second dose will antibody levels be protected against the virus.
However, the South African variant which is called E484K, can not only help to infect the body’s cells, but it can “evade the immune system.”
He added, “The fact this mutation called E484K has now been picked up in some samples of the Kent variant would be a twist, a worrying development.
“It potentially means that people who have had the infection before might be re-infected and also that it might reduce the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines.”
Dr Dami Collier, one of the Cambridge co-investigators said, “Our data suggest that a significant proportion of people aged over 80 may not have developed protective neutralising antibodies against infection three weeks after their first dose of the vaccine.
“But it’s reassuring to see that after two doses, serum from every individual was able to neutralise the virus.”
Professor Ravi Gupta, the lead researcher added, “Our work suggests the vaccine is likely to be less effective when dealing with this (E484K) mutation.
“B1.1.7 [the Kent variant] will continue to acquire mutations seen in the other variants of concern, so we need to plan for the next generation of vaccines to have modifications to account for new variants.
“We also need to scale up vaccines as fast and as broadly as possible to get transmission down globally.”
Whitehall sources have said that they are hopeful the whole of the UK would have received their first dose of the vaccine by May, according to the MailOnline.
By 1 February over 9.2m people have received their first dose, and the government are confident that all over 70s will be vaccinated by mid-February.