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Experts say herd immunity is “very unlikely” and warns that Covid-19 is still in circulation at the end of the century.

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British scientists said “herd immunity is very unlikely to be achieved,” and warned that Covid would somehow be with us until the end of this century.

A study conducted at the University of East Anglia found that the only way to reach herd immunity was to vaccinate almost everyone, including children, with a more effective Pfizer vaccine.

Professor Alastair Grant

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Professor Alastair Grant
According to a new study, the only way to reach herd immunity is to vaccinate almost everyone, including children, with a more effective Pfizer vaccine.

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According to a new study, the only way to reach herd immunity is to vaccinate almost everyone, including children, with a more effective Pfizer vaccine.Credit: AFP or licensor

This is due to the effectiveness level of the vaccine and the emergence of more contagious virus strains.

The· Research Professors Paul Hunter and Alastair Grant have found that unless the majority of the population is vaccinated, the number of virus reproductions remains above one and continues to circulate within the community.

Speaking of the Irish sun COVID-19 Professor Hunter, an expert at UEA’s Norwich Medical College, said: “It is very unlikely that any vaccine will achieve herd immunity.

“But some of me don’t think it’s the purpose of the vaccine. We prevent people from getting infected and dying from serious illnesses, not to prevent them from getting infected. I’m vaccinated, and all vaccines seem to be pretty good at it. “

Ireland According to the findings, the goal is for up to 4 million people to receive the virus jab by the end of September, but even that number is not enough for herd immunity to initiate and eliminate the virus.

In this study, we used a mathematical model of Covid-19 infection and vaccine efficacy to see how well Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs work to reduce R numbers and achieve herd immunity. I predicted.

They initially discovered that 69% of the population needs to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, or 93% of the population needs to be vaccinated with the Oxford vaccine to reduce the R number to less than 1. Did.

“I can’t immunize enough”

However, when they took into account the newer, more contagious mutants, they found that vaccination of the entire UK population with the Oxford vaccine reduced R-values ​​to only 1.325.

Pfizer vaccines, on the other hand, require 82% of the population to be vaccinated to control the spread of new variants.

The Modeller Prof Grant from UEA’s Faculty of Environmental Sciences explains: “With the Pfizer and Modelna vaccines, about 82% of the population needs to be immunized to achieve herd immunity.

“But neither is licensed for children [under 16’s] People who make up about 25 percent of Ireland’s population. Therefore, it is not possible to provide sufficient herd immunity to achieve herd immunity.

“Also, some people refuse the vaccine, so achieving an immunization rate of 82% is probably impossible.

“In the absence of vaccination, herd immunity only occurs when 89 percent of the population is infected with the virus.

“And the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is so ineffective that mass immunity cannot be achieved by inoculating the entire population.”

Children at risk

This study has not yet been peer reviewed due to its rapid response nature.

The professors said their findings should not discourage people from being vaccinated-in fact, because those who choose to take protective shots leave themselves vulnerable. , The opposite.

Professor Hunter was asked if children would be at greater risk within the next few months due to the lack of vaccines, “Yes, that’s true when it comes to infectious diseases.

“Vaccines alone are not enough to reduce R-values ​​to less than 1, and when restrictions are relaxed, the virus spreads very widely in the community, thus exposing unvaccinated people.

“But the problem with children is that when infected with the virus, the risk of serious illness is minimal compared to the elderly, so the debate about vaccination of children is not completely clear. about it.”

Professors argue that it is ethical to vaccinate children only if they have “clear benefits” and that they are in favor of vaccination of the younger generation to other generations. Said it was unacceptable.

Will last a century

Professor Hunter was asked about how long he would live with Covid. “I will live with Covid until the end of this century. I’m absolutely sure it won’t go away.

“The head of the World Health Organization says basically the same thing. The question is how to be able to live with Covid, and many will enter or die in the ICU. No need.

“And I think that’s the effect of the vaccine. It helps us survive and reduce the chances of getting a serious illness, but it doesn’t necessarily stop it from spreading.”

Professor Grant added: “It’s not something you’ve never experienced, like measles. You probably see low levels of the virus because of the high risk of reinfection. The virus has been circulating for a long time.”

Professor Hunter states that life could return to normal by the summer: “This will be even more difficult as there are new variants.

“I think we need to check some restrictions for a longer time than if these new variants didn’t appear.

“But as we enter the summer, I believe there is considerable relaxation in what we are allowed to do, but we never go back to pre-Covid relaxation.”

Professor Hunter said the duration of immunity from vaccination was unknown, but said it was “plausible” that immunity could be weakened after 12 to 24 months.

“It will take about a year to get data on it, but we know that even with natural infections, people are starting to re-infect within about three months. The risk is much less. People who are not infected.

“Therefore, with weakened immunity and the emergence of new mutants that are evading the vaccine, it is quite possible that the current vaccine will last only a year or two. The vaccine needs to be changed.

“But even with these new mutants, the current immune system is very likely to significantly reduce the chances of getting a serious illness, while not stopping the infection.”

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