Boris Johnson’s medical chief was so infuriated by a newspaper story which claimed that a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine might only be 33 per cent effective that he threatened to report it to a press watchdog, The Mail on Sunday understands.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty – normally one of the more mild-mannered figures at No 10 press conferences – told colleagues The Guardian’s report was ‘total nonsense’ which could threaten the uptake of the jab.
The newspaper quoted ‘Israeli experts’ as saying only a third of people who have received one injection were protected.
It was reported yesterday that a single shot of the Pfizer vaccine had led to a ‘major presence’ of antibodies in 91 per cent of doctors and nurses who received it in Israel within 21 days.
A source said: ‘It is not every day that a member of the liberal academic establishment is angered by The Guardian.’
No 10’s options were limited, however, because the newspaper has not signed up to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which regulates newspapers and sanctions them for inaccuracies.
The report quoted Israeli Covid commissioner Professor Nachman Ash as saying that a single dose of Pfizer appeared ‘less effective than we had thought’, once cases of asymptomatic infection were included, although those who had received their second dose had a six- to 12-fold increase in antibodies.
Later in the week, the paper reported that Israel’s health ministry had ‘moved to row back on comments’ by Professor Ash’s suggestion that single doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine had not given as much protection against the disease as had been hoped.
It quoted the Israeli Ministry of Health as saying that the ‘full protective impact of the vaccine’ had not yet been seen.
The Guardian said last night that it had reported both Professor Ash’s ‘initial comments’ and subsequent comments from Israel’s health ministry: ‘The Guardian’s independent readers’ editor has not received any complaints about either article.’
Proof the Pfizer Covid vaccine works in the real world? Israeli healthcare group says coronavirus infections have PLUNGED by at least 60% among vaccinated over-60s
By Harry Howard for MailOnline
An Israeli healthcare group on Friday said coronavirus infections had plunged among people aged over 60 who had been vaccinated with the Pfizer Biontech vaccine.
Israel is currently leading the global vaccination drive, with around 30 per cent of its citizens having had at least a single dose of a jab so far.
But concern had risen globally over infection, death and hospitalisation rates in the country, which remained stubbornly high.
Out of 82,930 active cases on Thursday, 1,918 were hospitalized. Last week, the hospitalisation figure was just over 1,000.
Officials had hoped that the vaccine drive – which began on December 19 – would start to show an effect by mid-February.
But KSM Maccabi Research and Innovation Center claimed on Friday there had been a ‘significant decrease’ in the number of coronavirus infections among people aged over 60 who were vaccinated between December 19 and 24.
After analysing data of more than 50,000 patients aged over 60, they also found that hospitalisations in the same group had plunged by more than 60 per cent.
Israel secured access to large amounts of Pfizer’s jab by agreeing to provide data about its citizens for the company to track how well the jab works.
The new figures are a sign of hope that nationwide infections, deaths and hospitalisations could soon start to see a sustained fall.
It came amid reports that England’s chief medical officer was so infuriated by a newspaper story which claimed that a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine might only be 33 per cent effective that he threatened to report it to a press watchdog.
Chris Whitty told colleagues The Guardian’s report was ‘total nonsense’ which could threaten the uptake of the jab.