First vaccine dose is more effective than expected

06.01.2021 - 05:42
First vaccine dose is more effective than expected
Faroese health authorities are considering doubling the interval between the two required doses of the Covid-19 vaccine

The first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears to be significantly more effective than initially thought.

In response to the new findings, Faroese health authorities have now decided to use all received doses immediately rather than storing half of them away to ensure sufficient supply for the initially recommended follow-up shot three weeks later.

The health authorities are considering extending the interval between the two vaccine shots from three to six weeks. However, a final decision has yet to be made on this.

“Two doses administered three weeks apart have an efficacy rate of about 95 percent; however, we now know that the protection kicks in far earlier – the first shot provides up to 90-percent protection after about ten days,” says Shahin Gaïni, an epidemiologist at Tórshavn’s National Hospital.

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“Studies have confirmed that a six-week interval is relatively safe, so if we run into vaccine supply difficulties, it is reassuring to know that the first shots offer strong protection.”

This new strategy makes good sense, says Gaïni, as the highly contagious Covid variant recently identified in the UK increases the urgency of vaccinating as many people as possible.

There is currently no evidence of this variant in the Faroes, but it is only a matter of time before it will make its way to the islands, says chief medical officer Lars Fodgaard Møller.

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“We will now start conducting genome sequencing of all positive Covid-19 samples. This will inform us on the same day whether the UK strain is present in the samples,” he says.

“We have prepared some new precautionary guidelines which we will present to the government if we identify the new strain.”

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Health authorities in the UK have extended the vaccination interval from three to 12 weeks to ensure that as many people as possible get vaccinated amid supply uncertainties and critical demand.

The UK strain, which is believed to be 50-70 percent more contagious than previous strains, is also spreading quickly in Denmark, prompting similar changes to the Danish vaccination strategy. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen yesterday announced that Denmark is moving to the highest Covid-19 alert level.

For further information about Covid-19 in the Faroes, visit


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