Vaccines have been oversold as the pandemic exit strategy

World

Vaccines have been oversold as the pandemic exit strategy

ANALYSIS | Covid will be around for a long time — virus suppression is the right policy

Anjana Ahuja

Logistics permitting, about 15 million people in the UK will have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by some time in February. Provided the second doses are delivered in a timely manner, this should keep the most vulnerable out of hospital.

This milestone will not, however, push the country much further towards normality. We do not yet know if the vaccines curb transmission, though it is reasonable to hope they might. Most working-age people are unlikely to receive a first dose before mid-year. Even if the elderly can savour a newfound freedom, it is unclear why unprotected individuals should be expected to head back to non-essential workplaces, especially amid concern about a deadlier variant. Given vaccines have been sold as the main exit strategy come spring in the UK, some serious expectation management is now required, with unrelenting focus on suppressing the virus.

One source of gloom emerged at a briefing last week. Academic researchers warned vaccination alone might not induce sufficient herd immunity to stamp out the virus. An unhappy combination of imperfect vaccine efficacy, suboptimal take-up and super-infectious variants could derail attempts to reach the herd immunity threshold. Modelling from the University of East Anglia corroborates this unpalatable possibility...

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