Covid Vaccination Alone Will Not Fully Contain Virus: Study
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Vaccinating all adults in the UK is unlikely to achieve herd immunity and fully contain the coronavirus, according to a modelling study. A gradual release of control measures, high vaccine uptake, and a vaccine with high protection against infection is essential to minimise future waves of infection, the authors said.

This study modelled the combined interaction of the UK vaccination rollout with different scenarios of relaxing control measures, to predict the R-number and deaths and hospital admissions due to Covid-19 from January 2021 to January 2024. The model assumed vaccine uptake would be 95% in those aged 80 and older, 85% in those aged 50–79, and 75% in those aged 18–49.

Vaccine protection against symptomatic disease was assumed to be 88% based on phase 3 trial data from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines being administered in the UK. The vaccines’ protection against infection was varied in four scenarios (0%, 35%, 60%, 85%). According to the researchers, the findings suggest that although vaccination can substantially reduce R, it may not be enough to drive R below 1 without other control measures.

Under the most optimistic scenario for protection against infection (85%), the R number is estimated to be 1.58. Removing all restrictions after the vaccination rollout is complete is predicted to lead to another wave of infections with a substantial number of deaths.

The authors considered abrupt releases of some measures with a vaccine that offers 85% protection. A partial release in February 2021 was estimated to lead to 130,100 deaths by January 2024. These estimates all include the 49,300 deaths that have already occurred this year.

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