UK vaccine rollout ensuring ‘population immunity’ as variant warning forced strategy shift

Coronavirus: UK heading for 'population immunity' says expert

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Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, insisted that the UK coronavirus vaccine rollout has so far been very successful. While speaking to Nick Robinson on BBC’s Today Programme, he claimed the UK was heading towards “population immunity”. He added that the rise of potentially more dangerous Covid variants has forced the UK scientific community to consider having new vaccines to fight against them in the future.

He also insisted that ensuring vaccine are available across the globe was more than a question of ethics.

He argued that once coronavirus cases had declined around the globe, that is when Britain would be safest.

The Today Programme host began by questioning whether the UK should treat coronavirus like the flu going forward, however.

Mr Robinson said: “Do we not have to revisit the debate about what you do is protect those most at risk and let everybody else get on with their lives as we do with flu?”

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Sir Jeremy replied: “No, I don’t accept that.

“With vaccination now, an amazing achievement, the vaccine task force deserves great credit and the rollout through the NHS.

“With vaccination, we believe we can now achieve population immunity whereby we will not have to go back into lockdown.

“We drive down transmission and we vaccinate as many people as possible.

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“This includes school children and the whole of the population later this year.

“That way the whole of the population will be protected, vulnerable people will be protected and we can keep the pressure off the NHS.”

Sir Jeremy added that due to the real threat of new variants, UK science strategy has been forced to shift and put greater reliance on new vaccines to deal with them.

He said: “Science can drive the development of new vaccines that can deal with new variants.

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“The new variants were a massive warning.

“We are not through this pandemic yet but we can be through it.

“But only if we reduce transmission, we vaccinate as many people in this country and we ensure that those vaccines are available in an equitable way around the world.

“That is not just a moral and ethical case it is financial and economic and it is the only way to bring this pandemic to a close globally.

“It is only when we do that that Britain will be safe.”

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