A panel of experts has told MPs that there is no way of stopping Covid from spreading through the entire population because the vaccines don’t prevent infection and transmission, especially given the Delta variant, adding that we should stop worrying about community testing. “What matters is the burden of patient hospitalisation and critical care,” says a Consultant Paediatrician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “And actually there hasn’t been as much with this Delta variant.” The Telegraph has more.
Scientists said it was time to accept that there was no way of stopping the virus spreading through the entire population, and monitoring people with mild symptoms was no longer helpful.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the Oxford vaccine team, said it was clear that the Delta variant could infect people who had been vaccinated, which made herd immunity impossible to reach even with high vaccine uptake. …
Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid, Sir Andrew said: “Anyone who is still unvaccinated will, at some point, meet the virus.
“We don’t have anything that will stop transmission, so I think we are in a situation where herd immunity is not a possibility and I suspect the virus will throw up a new variant that is even better at infecting vaccinated individuals.”
Until recently, it was hoped that increasing the number of Britons jabbed would create a ring of protection around the population. As late as last week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said one of the reasons it had advised that 16 and 17 year-olds should be vaccinated was because it may help prevent a winter Covid wave.
However, analysis by Public Health England has shown that when vaccinated people catch the virus they have a similar viral load to unvaccinated individuals and may be as infectious.
Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine at the University of East Anglia and an expert in infectious diseases, told the Committee: “The concept of herd immunity is unachievable because we know the infection will spread in unvaccinated populations and the latest data is suggesting that two doses is probably only 50% protective against infection.”
Professor Hunter, who advises the World Health Organisation on Covid, also said it was time to change the way the data was collected and recorded as the virus became endemic.
“We need to start moving away from just reporting infections, or just reporting positive cases admitted to hospital, to actually start reporting the number of people who are ill because of Covid,” he added. “Otherwise we are going to be frightening ourselves with very high numbers that actually don’t translate into disease burden.”
On Tuesday, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, confirmed that third dose booster shots would be given from next month. However, Sir Andrew argued that, if mass testing was not stopped, Britain could be in a situation of continually vaccinating the population.
“I think as we look at the adult population going forward, if we continue to chase community testing and are worried about those results, we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re constantly boosting to try and deal with something which is not manageable,” he said.
“It needs to be moving to clinically driven testing in which people are willing to get tested and treated and managed, rather than lots of community testing. If someone is unwell they should be tested, but for their contacts, if they’re not unwell then it makes sense for them to be in school and being educated.”
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