Social distancing ‘may be in force until 2022’, Sage study suggests

Relaxation of social-distancing measures will cause another surge in deaths unless vaccination is a success, study warns 

Peter Stubley
Sunday 31 January 2021 02:39
Comments
<p>Keeping two metres away from people has become a feature of everyday life</p>

Keeping two metres away from people has become a feature of everyday life

Social distancing rules could remain in force until 2022 unless vaccination significantly reduces the spread of coronavirus, according to government advisers.

Scientists have warned ministers that a jab would have to be 85 per cent effective at stopping transmission as well as severe illness to prevent another spike in deaths, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The modelling was commissioned by a subgroup of Sage, and the paper written by modellers at the University of Warwick. Their research showed that even with this "best-case scenario" lockdown would have to be kept in place until the end of May.

If Boris Johnson lifted restrictions next month after the most at-risk groups are vaccinated, it would prompt another surge in deaths peaking at just under 1,000 a day.

But if vaccines were only 60 per cent effective at preventing transmission of the virus, daily deaths could peak at around 1,500 a day.

The study adds: "Only vaccines that offer high infection-blocking efficacy with high uptake in the general population [will] allow relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions without a huge surge in deaths." 

It is not yet clear how effective any of the vaccines are at blocking infections, although experts think it could be around 60 per cent.

One of the paper's authors, Dr Sam Moore, told the Telegraph that even vaccines with 85 per cent efficacy would not drive the virus' R rate below one.

He added: "The vaccines are not going be 100 per cent effective at stopping serious disease. So if you manage to get, say, 85 per cent of people to take it and it turns out to be 90 per cent effective, that's still 25 per cent of people who could die from it, which is a lot of people."

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that data should become available on this topic in the next four weeks, adding: "It should be able to then allow us to make plans... we'll be able to see the impact of vaccines on transmission and also on hospitalisation and serious infection."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in