Predictive models developed by the University of Warwick suggest the vaccine rollout in adults alone was not enough to stop the spread of Covid cases in the UK. The study suggested that gradual easing of lockdown restrictions have the chance to minimise future surges in infections.
Professor Matt Keeling said: “Our modelling suggests that vaccination rollout in adults alone is unlikely to completely stop COVID-19 cases spreading in the UK.
“We also found that early sudden release of restrictions is likely to lead to a large wave of infection, whereas gradually easing measures over a period of many months could reduce the peak of future waves.”
The University’s modelling was carried out before real-world data had been aggregated on the impact of vaccine rollout.
Professor Keeling added: “However, some measures, such as test, trace, and isolate, good hand hygiene, mask-wearing in high-risk settings, and tracing from super-spreader events, may also be necessary for some time.”
The study, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, also aimed at predicting coronavirus related deaths in models reaching as far as 2024.
The models published in the paper suggest that if measures are eased in April 2021, as many as 61,400 people could die from the pandemic with later dates reducing the death rate drastically.
They suggested that if lockdown measures are eased in the start of summer, there could be 53,900 deaths.
Finally it suggested that if the UK were to lift lockdown restrictions once everyone in the UK has been vaccinated, Covid related deaths over the next two years could be limited to only 21,000.
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It did note that the models do not account for the emergence of new variants of the virus that show which current vaccines may be less effective against.
Professor Keeling added that the UK’s successful rollout of the vaccine coupled with the government’s strategy for easing lockdown restrictions are cause for optimism.
The UK Government announced this week that over 25 million adults had been vaccinated against the virus.
Another expert from the University, Dr Sam Moore, said: “Since we conducted this study, new evidence suggests there may be a higher level of protection against severe disease offered by both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines than the level we assumed.
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“This may reduce the size of future hospital admissions and deaths we estimated, making future waves more manageable for the health service.”