Covid vaccine one-dose approximately 70% effective, JCVI chief reveals

7 February 2021, 13:26

By Seán Hickey

The deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation announced that the efficacy of one-dose is 'very promising.'

"It's all looking very promising in terms of vaccine effectiveness," announced Professor Anthony Harnden, who spoke to Tom Swarbrick on how well protected the UK population currently is from Covid-19.

He admitted that "the data's looking very promising in terms of one dose for the Pfizer vaccine." When pushed by Tom, he insisted that it is very difficult to pinpoint just how promising it is, but gave his educated analysis:

"The variant is evolving, the vaccine effectiveness is evolving, and it's just really difficult to give you precise figures without being misleading.

"When I say promising, it's looking to me like we're getting mid-70% effectiveness generally but that's a very ballpark figure."

Tom sought more clarity from the deputy chair of the JCVI: "People are 70% less likely to catch it? Or 70% less likely to suffer from it?"

"It's looking like 70% protective against mild disease and severe disease," Professor Harnden confirmed.

While admitting that "it's really looking good so far," he stressed that the statistics are a "very approximate figure, not an exact figure."

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Asked what he thought about Brits travelling abroad on holiday this year and potentially bringing new strains of the virus back to the UK, Professor Harnden said he would be "very concerned about that at the moment.”

He said: "I think we should all think about UK holidays this year, actually to be quite honest.

"But yes, I think that is a potential risk – we know this virus mutates regularly and we’re going to have to get used to many different types of variants.

"Clearly what we don’t want to do is introduce variants into this country which then become widespread which the vaccines are not as susceptible to.

"I think this clearly needs a lot of attention and thought, both at a political level and a scientific level."

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Professor Harnden added: “I think we’re experts at genomic sequencing, so we’re going to pick this up sooner than most.

"My own belief is that we’re going to need an annual coronavirus vaccine for the next few years which is actually tailored to the main variants which are circulating in the country at that time. So I think we’re going to have to get used to a level of coronavirus circulating and just be on top of that each year.

"We know the virus is a winter virus, like influenza, and actually when summer comes and we’re all outdoors a bit more, the virus will dampen down a bit more, but I think we’re going to have to get used to annual immunisation for coronavirus.

"I think we’re just going to have to be more cautious about our travelling to countries where there are big problems at the moment."