Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group which developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, says that it is impossible to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus, citing the delta variant.
The story: Pollard told the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tuesday that herd immunity is “not a possibility,” which is when a large part of the population is immune to the virus, usually through vaccination, and can no longer significantly spread among the rest of the population.
He pointed to the delta variant, noting that it’s not only spreading faster but also infects vaccinated individuals, which means that unvaccinated individuals will eventually come into contact with the virus, he said.
Pollard reasoned that the government should abandon any hopes for herd immunity because a new coronavirus variant could emerge that is even more transmissible than the delta variant. Pollard projected that based on the current situation with the coronavirus, it will likely turn into an endemic.
His remarks: “I think we are in a situation here with this current variant where herd immunity is not a possibility because it still infects vaccinated individuals,” Pollard told members of Parliament at a meeting about the UK’s pandemic response, according to Sky News.
“We know very clearly with coronavirus that this current variant, the Delta variant, will still infect people who have been vaccinated and that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated, at some point, will meet the virus,” he said.
Pollard said a new variant may appear that “is perhaps even better at transmitting in vaccinated populations,” which is “even more of a reason not to be making a vaccine program around herd immunity.”
“And if anything we need to focus now not on what might stop new variants because I don’t think we have any facility to control that. We need to focus on thinking about how do we prevent people dying or going to hospital.”
“I think it is a pretty distant prospect and we need to get used to the concept that this will become what we call an endemic disease rather than a pandemic disease,” Pollard noted.. “A disease that is with us all the time—probably transmits seasonally a bit like influenza where we see winter outbreaks.”
“I think this next six months is a really important consolidation phase and in that shift from the epidemic to the endemic,” Pollard said, “which is the living with COVID. That doesn’t mean that we live with it and put up with it,” he added. “We still have to manage those cases of patients who become unwell with it.”
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