Covid: Will UK vaccine success keep virus at bay?

Posted: May 17th 2021


I suspect, even though I have little evidence to substantiate it, that smaller rural settlements, will be less susceptible to the re-emergence of the pandemic to the same degree as larger urban settings, what do you think? This story tells us:

Next week will see the most significant lifting of restrictions yet in England, with indoor mixing to be allowed. The rest of the UK is making similar steps.

It means the onus is increasingly shifting on to the vaccines, rather than social distancing and restrictions, to keep the virus at bay. How well do they work? And is there now enough immunity in the population to protect us all?

The UK has benefited from both fast rollout and good uptake. Currently, a third of the adult population is fully vaccinated, with another third having had one dose.

Among those at most risk - the over-50s and younger adults with health conditions, where 99% of Covid deaths have occurred - uptake for the first dose has been 95%.

Some describe that as being only partially vaccinated. But that can underplay the significance of that first dose, which provides most of the protection - the second acts to boost immunity and is important for long-lasting protection.

The latest government data - based on evidence from the rollout - suggests one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cuts the risk of infection by as much as 70% and death by even more.

Data on their effectiveness after two doses is only just emerging - but, as expected, it suggests this level of protection is boosted even further. For Pfizer, which was rolled out first, the risk of death is reduced by 97%.

What is more, those that are vaccinated but do become infected are thought to be about half as likely to pass the virus on.

The vaccines are working about as well as could be hoped in the real world - and confirm what the trial results always suggested.