Covid breakthrough as pubs set to reopen: UK to pass herd immunity threshold by Monday
THE UK will likely pass the threshold required for immunity against Covid on Monday as the country's speedy vaccination programme continues to battle back against the pandemic.Data published by the Office for National Statistics based on antibody testing - published last week - revealed more than half (54 percent) of people had antibodies by March 14.
Children may have to be vaccinated against Covid to achieve herd immunity, a top expert claimed today.
Britain has yet to start offering youngsters jabs, with No10's top scientific advisers wanting better safety data before recommending ministers on whether they should press ahead with the controversial move.
Children are already being vaccinated in Israel and the US, with over-12s in both nations able to get Pfizer's jab.
The countries are aiming to squash the disease through inoculating youngsters, with the hope of eventually achieving herd immunity.
Coronavirus may NEVER be eradicated expert predicts
Instead of ending, COVID-19 will step down to an endemic disease, that circulates the globe annually, but less fatally, predicts Dr Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic professor.Instead of ending, COVID-19 will step down to an endemic disease, that circulates the globe annually, but less fatally, predicts Dr Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic professor of infectious diseases.
Dr Asher Salmon, deputy director general of Israel's health ministry, said 'nobody knows' the exact threshold for herd immunity. But when asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme if it was impossible to reach without inoculating children, he said: 'We believe so.'
Dr Salmon said: 'When vaccinating children, there are two purposes. The first is of course to protect the individual child.
'The second issue, of course, is to create an effective herd immunity in our society.
'If we would leave around 20 to 30 per cent of our population unvaccinated, we would always have a risk of an explosion of cases.
'It may start in kids with no major hospitalisation effect but at another point it would also touch other groups including high risk groups and the elderly population.'
Dr Fauci admits he wore mask after vaccination to avoid mixed signals
'I didn't want to look like I was giving mixed signals, but being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low,' Dr Fauci said during a Tuesday GMA interview.'I didn't want to look like I was giving mixed signals, but being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low,' Dr Fauci said during a Good Morning America interview.
Herd immunity is the point at which a virus can no longer spread effectively through a population because enough people are protected against it, either through jabs or getting infected.
Since the start of the pandemic there has been a massive debate over just how many people require immunity to fully suppress the spread of Covid.
Early figures suggested the threshold could be in the region of 70 per cent of the population.
America's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, has also claimed the true figure could be in the region of 90 per cent.
Dr Salmon said: 'Nobody really knows what the exact line regarding herd immunity and Covid. We don’t even know if we can use the term herd immunity.
WHAT IS 'HERD IMMUNITY'?
Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.
CDC expects data on Covid shots in pregnancy, young kids, by year-end
The results of vaccine trials for pregnant women and young children may be available this summer, according to CDC officials. The potential expansion of vaccine eligibility is key to reaching herd immunity.Dr Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, said at a Senate hearing that her agency already had reassuring data on women who had received the vaccine in their third trimester.
Effectively, it means that once people have some form of immunity, it reduces the ability of a disease to spread among the population.
Therefore, someone who has antibodies either through previous infection or vaccines, acts as a 'barrier' to the virus.
If you have enough 'barriers' then the disease cannot effectively spread through a population.
But in the case of a new virus, such as with Covid, the virus can spread essentially without any barriers — which can lead to a pandemic.
The World Health Organisation says it supports achieving herd immunity through vaccination, not by allowing a disease to spread through any segment of the population.
But one expert told MailOnline that Covid is here to stay and that the key is reaching a 'herd immunity threshold'.
This keeps the virus at what is known as an endemic level — where a disease is regularly found among the population but is not harmful enough to impact on society.
Keeping Covid within the herd immunity threshold, which can vary particularly in winter when diseases such as flu and coronavirus spread quickly, will mean it is kept at a 'manageable level', the expert added.
The moral questions behind vaccinating children against Covid-19
Pfizer jab has been approved for use in adolescents - but experts caution against immediate rolloutModerna and Pfizer have released data suggesting that their vaccines are well tolerated in adolescents and highly effective in preventing Covid-19. Canada, the US and the EU have already authorised the Pfizer vaccine in children as young as 12. And the UK has just approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 12 to 15. But there may a case for holding out on an immediate rollout, for several reasons.
Research shows the current crop of Covid vaccines help by increasing the antibody response to the virus — therefore heavily reducing the risk that someone can be made seriously ill.
But data is not yet available about how effective the vaccinations are at preventing transmission.
'But from an effective level, it seems we need to vaccinate 70 per cent to reach this elusive line and to do so we need our kids to be vaccinated.'
However, Israel has a much higher proportion of children than the UK — more than 30 per cent compared to 21 per cent.
For Britain to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population, it would require 46.6million people are jabbed.
Currently only 42million people have had a first dose, with the roll-out in England yet to open up to adults between 18 and 20.
Video: Astra’s Antibody Drug Fails Study on Preventing Covid Symptoms (Bloomberg)
The figures would suggest that it would be possible to hit the same threshold as Israel without vaccinating children.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which polices the safety of drugs in the UK, has already approved Pfizer's Covid jab for 12- to 15-year-olds.
But ministers have yet to expand the roll-out to children, despite Whitehall sources talking of plans to dish out jabs to youngsters in September.
Coronavirus UK: 8 in 10 adults likely to have Covid antibodies, new ONS report suggests
It takes between two and three weeks after infection or vaccination for the body to make enough antibodies to fight the virus . Antibodies then remain in the blood at low levels, although these levels can decline over time to the point that tests can no longer detect them. The estimates, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and based on a sample of blood test results for the week beginning 17 May, are for people in private households and do not include settings such as hospitals and care homes.
No10 is waiting for guidance from the JCVI, or Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises them on the inoculation drive.
Yesterday, it was revealed the panel — made up of some of the country's top vaccinologists — wants to wait for more data on how safe vaccines are for children, amid concerns about heart damage.
Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines have both been linked to extremely rare cases of myocarditis — inflammation of the heart — particularly in young men.
There are fears the condition could also affect children after vaccination, who face a low risk of dying from Covid.
Discussing the issue today, Dr Salmon admitted officials 'don't know anything about the issue' in children.
Israel's vaccine roll-out to 12- to 16-year-olds only began two weeks ago and is going 'quite slowly', so data for how many cases occur in youngsters is scarce.
Dr Salmon suggested Israel could begin vaccinating children younger than 12 by the end of the year once the results of clinical trials in the age group come back.
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have all begun large-scale trials to test their vaccines' safety an efficacy on children younger than 12, with results expected this autumn.
Scientists are divided on whether children need to be vaccinated in the UK, with some insisting it will be necessary to counter the more transmissible Indian 'Delta' variant.
Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline moving the roll-out on to children posed a moral dilemma, with legitimate safety concerns meaning it is not worth risking children's well-being for the sake of adults.
CDC study estimates over 80% of Americans are protected from COVID-19
About 83% of the U.S. population ages 16 and up has some degree of protection against COVID-19 from vaccination or past infection, the CDC estimates based on a survey of antibody levels.Based on antibody levels in about 1.4 million patients' blood samples, CDC researchers estimated that 20 percent of Americans have immunity from prior infection - though the number varies by age and other demographics. The other 60 per cent have received a shot which confers similar immunity.
One of the Government's senior scientific advisers also warned of the ethical dilemma posed by vaccinating children — who face a one-in-a-million risk of dying from coronavirus.
SAGE's Professor Calum Semple, an expert in outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said he is against vaccinating the 14million children in the UK.
The MHRA said it is 'closely monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis received with the Covid vaccines'.
It has recorded just 34 cases of myocarditis after Pfizer jabs — a similar number to after the AstraZeneca vaccine — and only two after Moderna, but says numbers 'similar or below expected background levels'.
Meanwhile, US health chiefs have announced officials will gather tomorrow to discuss 226 plausible cases of heart inflammation in under-30s given the jabs in America.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bosses yesterday admitted the number of cases was higher than expected and that most were in boys and young men. However, they insisted the complication was still rare.
All the cases met the CDC's 'working case definition' of myocarditis and pericarditis but the actual number of reports made stands at almost 800. Hundreds of affected patients are still being reviewed.
Among the cases spotted in the US, three are in intensive care, 15 are hospitalised and 41 have ongoing symptoms.
The CDC continues to urge everyone aged 12 and older in the US to get vaccinated and says it is not clear if either condition is actually caused by the shots.
However, similar links were also uncovered in Israel, Canada, and the Pfizer vaccine was yesterday rejected for all children aged 12 to 17 in Germany who do not have underlying health conditions.
Children may get 'better' immunity from catching Covid, expert says .
Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, said it was 'pretty pointless' to inocualte children against the virus.Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, claimed it was 'pretty pointless' to inoculate youngsters, who face such a vanishingly small risk of falling seriously ill with Covid.