Expert calls for second jab delay, as Government responds to re-opening report

Vandhna Bhan
Source: 1News

The Government will today announce their response to a highly anticipated report into the safe re-opening of our borders.

The report highlights the need for almost all eligible Kiwis to be vaccinated in order to do so, but some experts say that in order to ramp up our vaccination there needs to be a change in our vaccine rollout.

So far only one third of adults have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and just over 20 per cent have received their second dose.

Now there are calls to delay the time between getting the first and second jab.

"You actually get a higher antibody, which means that your body is much more protected against the virus," says immunologist Prof Graham Le Gros.

It would also allow more people to get their first dose.

"If we delay the time, it just means you've got more vaccines. Getting a number of people who've all been vaccinated at least once would actually greatly protect our population," says Le Gros.

And the sooner more people are vaccinated the sooner Kiwis may be able to embark on that overseas trip according to yesterday's report.

"We are hoping by early next year we will start to open the borders in a phased way," says the report's author Prof David Skegg.

"We are recommending that first of all that should be for New Zealanders traveling overseas and coming back, not from the highest risk countries, and then it would progressively be widened to other travelers." 

Auckland Airport.

Some overseas experts are warning that even with high immunisation rates the Delta variant will still spread.

"I think we are in a situation here with this current variant, where herd immunity is not a possibility because it still infects vaccinated individuals and I suspect what the virus will throw up next is a variant which is perhaps even better at transmitting in vaccinated populations," says Oxford vaccine group Director Prof Sir Andrew Pollard.

In the UK they have delayed the second dose by 12 weeks and Le Gros says it's proved beneficial for them in the wake of the Delta variant.

He is just one of many experts who over the last few days have been saying it'll be beneficial to delay the second jab.

"By delaying I think they give themselves a lot more chance to get going on this vaccine rollout which we want to achieve by the end of the year if the borders want to come down," says Le Gros.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has said the Government is looking into this and that there will be more information in today's announcement.