Modelling from experts at University College London suggests the number of people who are protected against coronavirus through vaccination or previous infection will hit 73.4 percent on April 12 – enough to tip the country into herd immunity. The university also predicted the threshold level required for herd immunity will plunge heading into the summer, with the UK needing just 40 per cent protection in a couple of months’ time to be protected.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics based on antibody testing – published last week – revealed more than half (54 percent) of people had antibodies by March 14.
But since then, more than seven million people have received their first dose of a vaccine jab, while almost 100,000 more people have tested positive for Covid.
Professor Karl Friston from UCL said: “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.
“Based upon contact rates at the beginning of the pandemic and estimated transmission risk, this is nearly at the herd immunity threshold.”
Dr David Bull, the former MEP who is the deputy leader of the Reform UK political party, hailed the UK’s latest breakthrough in Covid herd immunity.
He tweeted to his 28,600 Twitter followers: “UK will pass threshold required for herd immunity against Covid on Monday, according to UCL.
“Data shows the number of people who have protection against the virus through vaccination or previous infection will hit 73.4% on 12 April, enough to tip the country into herd immunity.”
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The UK has been widely praised for the rapid rollout of its vaccination programme, buying tens of millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer and newly-launched Moderna jabs well in advance.
Government data up to Tuesday showed 31.7 million people in the UK had received at least one Covid vaccines, with more than 60 percent of adults estimated to have so far received a first dose.
The latest breakthrough comes with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief scientists looking to reassure the British public over the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after regulators revealed one in a million chance of dying from a rare blood clot.
He urged all people under the age of 30, who will be offered an alternative vaccine, to accept a jab, adding there “more than enough” Moderna and Pfizer doses for this group.
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Mr Hancock said vaccines are now breaking the link between Covid cases and deaths in the UK, and were saving “thousands of lives”.
The Health Secretary told Sky News: “The number of people dying from Covid halved in the last nine days… and is down 90 percent from the peak.”
During an interview on BBC Breakfast, he said there were almost 10.2 million people aged 18-29 in the UK, of whom 1.6 million have had their first vaccine.
Speaking directly to that age group, he added: “The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine.
“Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life.”
“The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million (the chance of developing a rare brain blood clot) – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”