England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer has told the public to remain cautious, even once they receive a Covid vaccine, as “we do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission of the virus”.
Writing in the Telegraph on Saturday (23 Jan), Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said we are approaching the one year anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and of the first case of Covid detected in the UK.
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Prof Van-Tam also warned that “even after you have had both doses of the vaccine you may still give Covid-19 to someone else.”
He continued: “If you change your behaviour [after being vaccinated] you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue.”
Because the vaccines are only proven to be effective at preventing severe symptoms of Covid-19, rather than blocking it from entering someone’s body, individuals who have been vaccinated could still contract and spread the virus, albeit without displaying any symptoms.
Professor Van-Tam wrote that “life as we knew it” will return, but in order for that to happen, “we need to bring the number of cases down as soon as we can whilst we vaccinate our most vulnerable.”
He praised the UK’s response so far, highlighting the development and deployment of vaccines as well as the UK’s role in discovering the treatment dexamethasone.
‘No vaccine has ever been 100% effective’
As well as celebrating the UK’s successes in fighting the pandemic, Professor Van-Tam also cautioned the public not to become complacent as a result of the vaccination programme.
He said that people who receive the vaccination may still be able to transmit it to others, and noted that “no vaccine has ever been 100 per cent effective, so no one will have 100 per cent protection from the virus”.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer defended the Government’s vaccination strategy of administering the first of two jabs several weeks prior to the second for many people.
He wrote: “Some people are questioning the UK policy of trying to give as many at-risk people as possible the first dose of the vaccine in the shortest possible time, inevitably extending the interval before the second dose is given.
“But what none of these (who ask reasonable questions) will tell me is: who on the at-risk list should suffer slower access to their first dose so that someone else who’s already had one dose (and therefore most of the protection) can get a second?”