The highly transmissible Delta strain of the coronavirus has made the prospect of herd immunity, where the majority of a country’s population becomes immune to a virus, difficult, the head of Britain’s Oxford Vaccine Group warned.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the team behind Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Tuesday that fears of another, even more transmissible variant remain a possibility and that, therefore, there is nothing that can completely stop the spread of the deadly virus.
However, he also said there was no reason to “panic” as he expressed doubts about the UK government’s proposed third booster dose of vaccines.
“The problem with this virus is (it’s) not measles. If 95% of people are vaccinated against measles, the virus can’t transmit the population,” Professor Pollard explained during the online evidence session.
“The Delta variant will still infect people who have been vaccinated. And that does mean that everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated will get the virus at some point. We don’t have anything to stop the transmission, so I think we’re in a situation herd immunity is not a possibility and I suspect the virus will raise a new variant that is even better at infecting vaccinated individuals,” he said.
This was echoed by Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia and an infectious disease expert, who also stressed that the current vaccines being administered are highly effective in preventing severe Covid infection and death, but they can infections are not completely prevented.
“The concept of herd immunity is unachievable because we know the infection will spread in unvaccinated populations and the latest data suggests that two doses are likely to be only 50 percent protective against infection,” said Mr Hunter.
Meanwhile, the experts also weighed in on the plans of British Health Secretary Sajid Javid to offer the most at-risk groups a third booster injection of a Covid vaccine along with a flu vaccine from next month.
“The time we would need is if we see evidence that there was an increase in hospitalizations — or the next phase after that where people would die — among those who have been vaccinated. And that’s not something we’re seeing at the moment.” said Professor Pollard.
“Even if the immunity levels start to drop, our immune system still remembers that we were vaccinated and we will be remembered in decades that we have those two doses of vaccine. So there is no need to panic right now,” he said. adding that doses are needed to “go where they can have the greatest impact” in unvaccinated parts of the world.
On Tuesday, the UK recorded the highest daily death toll from coronavirus since March, with 146 new deaths, but the number of new cases fell to 23,510 from 25,161 on Monday.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)