Achieving herd immunity through Covid-19 vaccine needs a "huge global effort"

9 August 2020, 08:58

Dr Gabriel Scally on importance of vaccine in battle against Covid-19

By Seán Hickey

This public health expert said people will have to curb their anxiety about vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 to help bring the coronavirus pandemic to an end.

Dr. Gabriel Scally is visiting Professor of Public Health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent SAGE. He was speaking to Andrew Castle after reports that just over half of the UK population are confident in getting a vaccine for Covid-19 when it is brought on stream.

Dr Scally accepted that "people are very anxious about Covid-19 but they're uncertain how to react to it," and said the uncertainty around a vaccine is understandable.

He called for education and communication programmes at a local level to help bring the public confidence for a vaccine and make it easier to vaccinate more people faster.

Andrew argued that even while people remain skeptical of a vaccine, "the critical care survival rate is around the same as pneumonia," and the science behind treating Covid-19 is getting better by the day. Dr Scally agreed.

Going back to the topic of a vaccine, Dr Scally said that "now we're going to have to go back and talk about getting herd immunity through having the vaccine," but warned that a vaccine can only work when the uptake is "really, really high."

Professor Heidi Larson of the Vaccine Confidence Project

Andrew wondered how the Independent SAGE member would reassure people who are anxious about a vaccine.

Dr Scally then listed out all the diseases we have eradicated because of vaccination, telling Andrew that "vaccines have been a wonderful gift to humankind."

He was cautious to remind Andrew that it will take "a huge global effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible," so we may be able to eradicate Covid-19, or live with it.

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