Professor questions Covid vaccine immunity – there may well be other worse ones coming

Vaccine: Doctor says you 'can't hope way into immunity'

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The majority of the UK population has now been vaccinated with a coronavirus jab and the picture looks positive: ICU wards are a far cry from what they were at the height of the pandemic. While a combination of natural immunity and mass vaccinations are likely responsible for turning the tide on the pandemic, vaccine immunity may never come to fruition, warned Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London.

When Prof Altmann was asked about the prospect of the virus dying out on Times Radio, he was loth to say it will definitely happen.

He said: “That’s still kind of true.

“More vaccination means more people carrying antibodies means fewer susceptible people, which means fewer lungs for the virus to be in, which means less pandemic.

“So, it hasn’t all gone out of the window. But nobody said this virus had to be simple.”

He added: “There’s Delta at the moment, there may well be other worse ones coming round the curve, and they impact the effectiveness of the vaccines and change their calculations.”

Prof Altmann is not alone in his outlook.

Giving evidence to MPs on Tuesday, Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the fact that vaccines did not stop the spread of Covid meant reaching the threshold for overall immunity in the population was “mythical”.

Prof Pollard continued: “The problem with this virus is [it is] not measles. If 95% of people were vaccinated against measles, the virus cannot transmit in the population,” he told the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus.

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“The Delta variant will still infect people who have been vaccinated. And that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated at some point will meet the virus … and we don’t have anything that will [completely] stop that transmission.”

It is worth noting that the evidence overwhelmingly supports getting vaccinated.

Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.

The analysis shows the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96 percent effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 percent effective against hospitalisation after two doses.

But it is still possible to catch coronavirus if you’ve been vaccinated and experience a range of symptoms.

Nonetheless, the vaccines have been shown to mitigate the worst effects of the virus.

Unvaccinated people are at risk of becoming seriously ill or having long-term effects, otherwise known as long Covid.

The COVID-19 vaccines are therefore the best way to protect yourself and others.

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • Reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • Reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • Protect against COVID-19 variants.

The first dose should give you some protection from three or four weeks after you’ve had it.

But, as the NHS notes, you need two doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

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