The head of the UK’s Oxford Vaccine Group has warned that the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus has rendered the prospect of herd immunity, where the majority of a country’s population becomes immune to a virus, difficult.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the team that was behind the Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus that the fear of another even more transmissible variant remains a possibility and, therefore, there is nothing that can completely stop the deadly virus from spreading. However, he also said there was no cause for “panic.”
Professor Pollard said, “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. The Delta variant will still infect people who have been vaccinated. We don’t have anything that will stop transmission, so I think we are in a situation where herd immunity is not a possibility.”
This was echoed by Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia and an expert in infectious diseases, who also highlighted that the current vaccines being administered are very effective in preventing severe Covid infection and death but they cannot prevent infections entirely.