Covid vaccines already having an effect on UK outbreak, research suggests

Virologist warns jabs will only ‘really begin to bite’ in a few weeks

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

The UK’s mass vaccination rollout already appears to be having an easing effect on the Covid crisis, according to data.

Research due to be published in days is set to provide evidence that Britons are receiving some protection from the virus, The Times reported on Saturday.

Though it is not yet clear if vaccines block transmission of the virus from one person to another, the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said early data “indicate a vaccine effect from the first dose in both younger adults and in older adults over 80”.  

“The effect seems to increase over time,” Professor Anthony Harnden told the newspaper. “It is possible that we may get stronger and better long-term protection by a delayed second dose.”

Virologist Dr Chris Smith, however, said the vaccine rollout would only “start to put a barrier in the way of the virus” by “mid-to-late February”.

He told BBC Breakfast this prediction is based on the fact it takes “two to three weeks” after having a vaccine for immunity to start to kick in, plus “a further time to consolidate that”.

Dr Smith said: “Yes we're making enormous strides, yes we're getting the vaccine into lots of people, but we won't expect to see it really begin to bite, I would say, for a few more weeks yet because as those numbers climb, and as people's immunity builds, that's when we're really going to start to put a barrier in the way of the virus”.

Official figures show that since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was first rolled out in early December, some 7.7 million people have received their first jab, indicating the NHS is more than halfway towards its target of vaccinating 15 million in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.  

Of this number, 7,253,305 were the first dose of the vaccine, a rise of 436,360 on the previous day's figures, while 447,898 were the second dose, an increase of 1,526.

Experts have said people should not delay getting one of the coronavirus vaccines in favour of waiting for different versions becoming available later this year.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: "I don't think people should be swithering about which jab to get, it's not like choosing between different consumer products, for example.

"I think we should recognise that if we're offered an appointment, we should take it up."

Dr Smith added that the newer Novavax and Janssen vaccines are not likely to be approved by the MHRA until "probably midway through the year".

Additional reporting by PA

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