THE pandemic has reinforced a belief amongst NHS staff that they should be willing to “sacrifice their own health for a salary”, a consultant working on the front line of Covid care has said.

The doctor said the decision to delay the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine coupled with insubstantial testing and PPE meant that a lot of NHS staff had “lost confidence” in public health strategy around the virus.

The UK’s revised plan to prioritise first dose vaccinations aims to reach more of the most vulnerable but public health, medical, and scientific support has been divided amid concerns over the level of protection offered.

The BMA is continuing to lobby for front line workers to be given the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine earlier than 12 weeks or “at the very least” more certainty about when they will receive boosters. Both the German and US governments have said they do not intend to delay second doses.

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An article in the British Medical Journal has referenced a new report on the Moderna vaccine, which behaves in the same way as the Pfizer/BioNTech one, which warns that the delay “may increase infection risk.”

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) analysed the neutralising antibodies of 34 healthy participants, all of whom had received two injections. 

Antibody levels were analysed from the administration of the first dose, through the second dose at 29 days out to 119 days. By 28 days, all participants’ antibody levels had fallen to “very low levels”. 

The consultant, who requested anonymity, said he works in a smaller hospital where “pretty much everyone is at risk if we have one or two patients with Covid.”

“I think over the 40 years I’ve worked for the NHS, staff have come to believe that you have to completely self-sacrificing, that they have no rights and that the NHS’s only responsibility is to pay your salary,” he said.

“I was given the first injection before Christmas and was told how important it was to get the second injection during which time they changed their minds, which left me feeling very uneasy because I wasn’t getting what the manufacturer recommends.

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“Those same chief medical officers and scientists suddenly decided that evidence based medicine doesn’t matter so we are going to fiddle it around.

“I just want to come to work knowing I’ve had the maximum protection.The CMOs have made political decision when they should have made a scientific decision.

“It feels to us in hospitals that the care home staff were treated appallingly in the first wave, they didn’t have the PPE and so on and now it seems to have swung the other way and they forgotten about the hospital staff. 

“None of the lateral flow testing was done, none of the PCR routine testing was done. I’m still not impressed with the PPE. If you look at the videos of what they are wearing in China, people are more or less hermetically sealed. 

“All of these things have meant that we have lost confidence in the story that is being peddled to us.”

The consultant said his partner, who is a retired practice nurse and in her 50s had re-considered returning to the NHS to help with vaccinations because she would not have felt adequately protected. He believes NHS staff should have been vaccinated first.

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He said: “It’s a bit like saying hand the bullets over to the civil defence, don’t give them to the army.”

Lewis Morrison, Chair of BMA Scotland, said that having a maximally protected NHS workforce would help alleviate current pressures "given the rates of illness and need to self-isolate."

He added: "At the very least staff need to have certainty about when they will get their vaccination doses, whether that’s a first or second, as soon as possible, and Scottish Government have committed to that for 2nd doses. 

“We would also welcome any opportunity to bring forward 2nd doses of the Pfizer vaccine, given that evidence and vaccine supply can change literally week to week.”