Vaccines WILL stop spread of the virus – but how much is not clear, JVT says

VACCINES will stop the spread of Covid-19 but it's not yet clear how much they will help, England’s deputy chief medical officer has warned.

The rollout of coronavirus jabs is well underway across the country and so far over seven million Brits have received their jab, but experts have warned that they need to be rolled out globally to halt the spread of the virus.

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Speaking at a Downing Street press conference last night Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said vaccines "couldn't fail" to slow the spread of infections as well as preventing illness.

Scientists across the world are currently examining vaccines in order to understand how effective they are in preventing the spread of the virus.

Prof Van-Tam has previously said that vaccines wouldn't be a "silver bullet" in fighting the virus and said people shouldn't assume they wouldn't be able to spread the virus if they had been vaccinated.

He said: "As scientists we believe on first principles that vaccines with the very high level of effectiveness that we are seeing from the clinical trials really couldn't fail to have some effect on transmission."

Prof Van-Tam highlighted that it was mainly a question as to "what extent" the vaccines would help curb transmission.

He added: "When we have clarity on the extent, that will then open up a whole range of further questions about the future deployment of vaccines … about how vaccines might play a role in keeping transmission low in the UK."

Data from the government's coronavirus dashboard shows that so far 7.1 million Brits have received their first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the Oxford/AstraZeneca offering.

Over 474,000 people have also received their second dose.

Mass vaccine centres are open across the country and GP surgeries as well as pharmacies are also administering the jab to the most vulnerable in society.

The government's chief scientific adviser also said that there is not yet any firm data that shows the effect vaccines are having on society.

Sir Patrick Vallance said: "You don't have vaccines to this degree of efficacy without there being some effect but we can't put a number on it at the moment.

"I think it is really important that as these are rolled out across the world, we monitor and understand —Israel has started doing that and they are beginning to get some data out.

"They have said they won't have any firm data for a few weeks yet and we're going to be in the same position."

Prof Vallance said these were important questions as the results would determine to what extent the jabs could be used across the world to reduce overall transmission.

Speaking to The Times, one expert said a small amount of transmission in people who had received the jab "was not necessarily a bad thing".

Eleanor Riley, from the University of Edinburgh that in two or three years time, we will actually be quite glad that there's a little bit of virus being spread around by people who are vaccinated.

She added: "We may get to the point where there's just enough virus circulating that immunity is naturally boosted, without the need for vaccines."

One of the main concerns in recent months as the jabs have been rolled out is whether or not they would be effective against the new variants found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Recent studies have suggested that Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is not as effective against the South African variant – but still works.

The firm said the "small differences" detected in tests on the South African and UK variants are “unlikely” to render the jabs useless.

But all coronavirus strains have dozens of mutations, and so the findings from Pfizer are limited at this stage.

The scientists are currently engineering a virus with the full set of South African mutations and expect to have results from that in around two weeks, according to Pei-Yong Shi, an author of the study.

Pfizer has already said its Covid vaccine is likely to protect against the UK strain.

So far results do not indicate that another jab will be needed to protect against new variants, the firm said.

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