When will the Covid-19 vaccine start having an effect on the nation?
The government has pledged to provide vaccines to 15 million people – those over 70, healthcare workers and those who need to protect themselves by mid-February, and millions more in the spring. This should slowly bring the virus back under control, although it will take several weeks before we can be sure the vaccine is working. The number of daily Covid-19 cases may drop, but that drop could simply be due to the impact of current lockdown measures. It is only when hospital admissions start to decline dramatically that we can be sure the vaccine is having an impact. Then there could be a loosening of the locking measures. However, few scientists believe this will happen before Easter.
What will happen in the spring?
Once those over 70 receive a dose, those over 60 will be eligible, adding an additional 5 million people, but these first injections will then need to be followed by 20 million second inoculations as there should be no d ‘difference of more than 12 weeks between the first and second administration of the vaccine, the scientists warned. Once these second doses are administered, the vaccines can be distributed to others.
Will the vaccine slow the rate of transmission of Covid-19?
This is one of the key questions scientists will seek to answer in the coming weeks. The vaccines currently given are designed to protect people from the serious side effects of the disease. They were not developed to block transmission of the virus. Thus, a person could be protected against serious illness while still carrying the virus and spreading others. However, most scientists believe that vaccines should reduce the viral load in people who are inoculated and that there should be a reduction in transmission. The degree of this reduction in transmission will be a key factor in freeing the nation from lockdown.
What will happen in the second half of 2021?
The government has ordered sufficient doses of the Covid vaccine for the entire population of the UK. However, vaccines do not provide 100% protection and not everyone will be inoculated. The lack of general immunity will therefore lead to outbreaks of Covid-19 throughout the year and these could intensify next winter. At the same time, new variants of the virus may emerge and require the manufacture of reconfigured vaccines to cope with them. It is also unclear how long current vaccines will protect against severe symptoms of Covid-19. As a result, most scientists believe that annual vaccinations against variants of the disease will be needed for years to come.