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Coronavirus vaccine would have to be 85 percent effective to stop a surge in deaths

Social distancing may remain in place ALL YEAR: Vaccine would have to be 85 percent effective to stop a surge in deaths under life as normal, experts say

  • Modelling passed to Downing Street showed UK would see large spike in deaths
  • If inoculations fails to significantly cut transmission UK will not return to normal
  • Social distancing will stay in place until December even in best case scenario 

The vaccine would have to be 85 per cent effective to stop a surge in deaths if social distancing ends, experts have revealed.

Modelling passed to Downing Street showed the UK would see a large spike in deaths if inoculation fails to significantly cut transmission.

A paper commissioned by SPI-M, a subgroup of Sage, and produced by modellers at the University of Warwick warned ‘high uptake’ was also vital to get the UK back to normal – without risking a deadly wave of coronavirus, reported the Telegraph

It said: ‘Only vaccines that offer high infection-blocking efficacy with high uptake in the general population allow relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions without a huge surge in deaths.’

In other coronavirus news:  

  • Figures showed daily positive Covid tests have fallen by 31 per cent in the past week to 23,275, with hospital admissions down by 16 per cent;
  • German claims that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective in over-65s were rubbished by senior government adviser;
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer writes in today’s Mail on Sunday in support of the Jabs For Teachers campaign for all school staff to be vaccinated;
  • Boris Johnson signalled that he wanted to relax lockdown rules on exercise, but was urged to move quickly;
  • Some of the UK’s biggest firms, including John Lewis and Tata, said rapid workplace tests have prevented thousands of sick days;
  • A major US study found proof that Covid-19 originated in China, undermining Beijing’s claims it may have come from elsewhere;
  • Germany’s government on Sunday threatened legal action against laboratories failing to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the European Union. 

Wendy Milbank, aged 75, from Newmarket, receiving the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine at the Newmarket Racecourse. Modelling passed to Downing Street showed the UK would see a large spike in deaths if inoculation fails to significantly cut transmission

Experts think efficacy is currently at 60 per cent but it is still an unknown.

SPI-M’s other modelling groups at Imperial College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have reportedly reached similar conclusions.

Even in the best case scenario – where vaccines stop 85 per cent of transmissions – lockdown will have to stay in place until May.

If lockdown was lifted mid-February, a third surge of infections would follow by April, the modelling found.

While efficacy at 85 per cent would mean deaths peak at 1,000 deaths a day, at 60 per cent daily deaths would rise by an average of 500 to 1,500 a day.  

Volunteers are trained by St John Ambulance instructors to administer Covid-19 vaccines at Manchester United Football Club on January 30

Volunteers are trained by St John Ambulance instructors to administer Covid-19 vaccines at Manchester United Football Club on January 30

A ban on large events and other social distancing restrictions would still need to be in place until the end of the year. Pictured, Haymarket in central London on January 8

A ban on large events and other social distancing restrictions would still need to be in place until the end of the year. Pictured, Haymarket in central London on January 8

Dr Sam Moore, one of the paper’s authors, said: ‘If we get very high infection blocking then this could almost be what delivers us from it, but it would have to be very high. Even vaccines with 85 per cent infection blocking are insufficient to drive ‘R’ below one on their own.’

Because the R rate is now above three social distancing measures have to stay in place for longer for the vaccine to take effect without risking more deaths.

If the vaccine does provide a 60 per cent block against coronavirus transmission, as experts have suggested, lockdown could end at the end of May, according to the Warwick model.

But a ban on large events and other social distancing restrictions would still need to be in place until the end of the year.      

A Government spokesman said: ‘At this early stage in the vaccination programme, scientists do not have sufficient data to advise how the vaccine may affect onward transmission.’ 

Life will not return to normal until 2024 when the whole world is vaccinated against Covid, warns health expert 

Life will not return to normal until 2024 when the whole world is vaccinated against coronavirus, a health expert has warned.

Dr Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at London School of Economics, said it will take four years for the vaccine to be distributed globally.

She told Sky News helping other countries to access the jab could actually hail a quicker return to normality.

‘This pandemic isn’t going to be over until it’s over globally,’ she said, as unchecked strains of coronavirus continue to threaten the efficacy of vaccinations.

Dr Clare Wenham (pictured), assistant professor of global health policy

Dr Clare Wenham (pictured), assistant professor of global health policy

She said border controls would have to remain in place to stop these variants being brought into the UK. 

It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) asked the UK to pause its vaccination program to help the global rollout.

WHO spokesman Margaret Harris said it was ‘clearly morally the right thing to do’, adding ‘you can wait’ in an interview with the BBC.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to offer all UK adults a first dose of the vaccine by Autumn.

The WHO, on the other hand, wants ‘two billion doses’ to be ‘fairly distributed’ around the world by the end of the year. 

WHO director general  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly said a ‘me first’ approach will prolong the pandemic and cause more deaths.

And Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), warned vaccinating ‘a lot of people in a few countries, leaving the virus unchecked in large parts of the world, will lead to more variants emerging’. 

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