Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Britain set to achieve herd immunity on Monday, UCL modelling shows

Nearly three-quarters will have protection on 12 April, UCL modelling shows

Clea Skopeliti
Thursday 08 April 2021 08:47 BST
Outdoor hospitality is set to return in England on 12 April
Outdoor hospitality is set to return in England on 12 April (REUTERS)

The UK could reach coronavirus herd immunity by Monday, modelling by University College London (UCL) has forecasted in contrast with government scientific advisers’ warning of a surge in hospitalisations over the summer.

The UCL research, seen by The Telegraph, estimates that almost three-quarters of people (73.4 per cent) will have immunity from the virus through vaccination or previous infection on 12 April.

UCL’s dynamic modelling stands in contrast with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ (Sage) more pessimistic view of the UK’s exit from lockdown, which forecasted earlier this week that a full release from restrictions in June could trigger another wave of hospitalisations comparable to January’s.

A document published by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) on Monday said it was “highly likely that there will be a further resurgence in hospitalisations and deaths after the later steps of the roadmap”.

It comes after figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed last week that around 54 per cent had antibodies by 14 March, either due to vaccination or infection.

Read more:

Since the ONS antibody figures were released, 7.1 million more people have received a first vaccine dose, while nearly 100,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19.

Prof Karl Friston, of UCL, told The Telegraph: “The herd immunity estimates surprised me. However, they are unremarkable when one considers that over 50 per cent of adults have been vaccinated, around 42 per cent of people have now been exposed to the virus and about 10 per cent have pre-existing immunity.

“When factoring in the estimated efficacy of vaccination in terms of sterilising immunity, this – according to the model – means about 70 per cent of the population are immune.”

Prof Friston said that this level is “nearly at the herd immunity threshold” based on contact rates at the beginning of the pandemic and the estimated risk of transmission.

Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that the UK’s roadmap remained on track as coronavirus data showed that the government’s “four tests” for easing restrictions had been met.

The factors by which the government judges the unlocking of the economy are: the continued success of the UK’s vaccine rollout; evidence on vaccine efficacy; infection rates; assessments on the risk posed by new variants.

Significant parts of the hospitality and leisure sector will be allowed to reopen from 12 April as part of the latest easing of restrictions.

However, outdoor gatherings will continue to be limited to six people or two households and people are still banned from socialising indoors with people outside their household or support bubble.

Join our commenting forum

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


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