Coronavirus vaccine ‘won’t give UK herd immunity until summer’ warns expert

The coronavirus vaccine will not give the UK herd immunity until summer, which means a delay in returning to normal life according to an expert.

In a bid to achieve herd immunity 80% of the population will need to receive the jab, it has been claimed.

However, it could be extremely difficult to vaccinate the huge amount of people required to return to a normal life until at least summer.

Professor Calum Semple's comments come amid reports of the Oxford vaccine getting approval within days which could be a "game-changer" as it could see millions getting the jab within weeks.

He told BBC Breakfast: "Obviously there is an urgency about this and we know that it is difficult to vaccinate lots of people at the same time – we've got a population of just under 70 million people and we're going to move through them in an orderly fashion vaccinating people most at risk."

He added: "The people that have been vaccinated will be protected within a matter of weeks and that's very important.

"On an individual basis these vaccines are so good that they will protect individuals, so we don't have to wait for this nonsense about herd immunity developing through natural infection, we can start to protect the individuals.

"To get the wider community herd immunity from vaccination rather than through natural infection will take probably 70% to 80% of the population to be vaccinated, and that, I'm afraid, is going to take us right into the summer I expect."

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However the expected approval of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine could lead to an end to lockdown by February, as 15 million people who are most at risk of dying or getting seriously ill with coronavirus have reportedly been identified for urgent inoculation.

The new jab is easier to distribute than the existing Pfizer one and could reach millions a week once approved, reports The Mirror.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said ministers “should be moving heaven and earth” to ensure it goes to plan.

Millions a week could get the jab starting next week as it is easier to distribute than the existing one.

AstraZeneca, which hopes for approval within days, said: “We think we’ve figured out the winning formula.”

In terms of vaccine uptake, practice GP Dr Fari Ahmad has said that so far there has been little sign of "vaccine hesitancy" among the first groups to receive the Pfizer jab.

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: "What's really interesting is a lot of the over-80s are very happy to have the vaccine.

"I think they do understand how much of a difference it will make to them individually and they're probably the ones that have been shielding, and it's had a massive impact on them.

"As we move through the age ranges I certainly think there will be some vaccine hesitancy, but I would hope that people will have seen the benefits of it."

Respiratory disease expert and Sage member Prof Calum Semple added the UK's existing mass-vaccination programmes will help speed up the process.

"The technology for identifying people and logistics is built into our system – it's going to have to be stepped up to do many, many more people in a shorter period of time, but that is feasible," he said.

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