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Vaccines will not be a 'silver bullet' to end Covid-19 immediately because millions of people won't get them and social distancing must stay for months while they are given out, report warns

 A coronavirus vaccine won't immediately bring the pandemic to an end and scientists and officials must be honest about how long it will take to roll one out and get life back to normal, experts say.

Eight out of 10 people may need to have the jab before it becomes effective and getting this done will be a massive task for medical workers.

A report published today has called for realistic timescales to be laid out for the public about how long it might actually take to vaccinate enough people to thwart the spread of Covid-19.

Anti-vaxx conspiracy theories spreading online will make it harder to get rid of coronavirus, it warned, and more than a third of people in the UK already say they aren't sure whether they would get a vaccine.

And even if take-up is good, lockdowns and social distancing will still have to continue to keep the virus under control while medics scramble to get the vaccine to millions of people. 

There is also the chance that that the jab won't work perfectly - experts have warned that the first vaccines may not be totally effective, meaning other measures might still be needed.

Oxford University sociologist Professor Melinda Mills and colleagues said clear communication about the vaccine will be a key part of 'expectation management' in coming months.

Scientists' attempts to make vaccines are hurtling forward at unprecedented speed around the world and results from late-stage clinical trials are expected from some teams before the end of 2020.

Experts say that it's likely at least one working vaccine will be ready to give to people by spring 2021, but it may not work perfectly and won't be available to everyone.

Britain's spy agency GCHQ has now launched an online campaign against anti-vaxx conspiracies that are being spread online by users in Russia.

The report comes as Pfizer and BioNTech today revealed that their Covid-19 vaccine candidate appears to be 90 per cent effective and the UK and US began to seriously consider starting to vaccinate people against the disease before the end of 2020. 

Chair of the UK's coronavirus vaccine taskforce, Kate Bingham, is pictured after receiving a jab as part of a trial by US company Novavax. Ms Bingham

Chair of the UK's coronavirus vaccine taskforce, Kate Bingham, is pictured after receiving a jab as part of a trial by US company Novavax. Ms Bingham 

Professor Mills said: 'There needs to be a frank conversation with the public about just how long it will take and that things will not immediately go back to normal when vaccines arrive.

'We need to move away from the one-way provision of information and generate an open dialogue that addresses misinformation and does not dismiss people's real vaccine concerns and hesitancy.

'And, critically, when the time comes, we need to make vaccination itself convenient.'

Professor Mills aired her concerns about plans to vaccinate everyone against Covid-19 in a report published by the British Academy scientific institution.

She said that two of the main problems that a vaccination programme will face are difficulties reaching everyone and doing the jabs, and persuading people to actually get the vaccine.

Rather than blaming anti-vaxxers, Professor Mills said officials should tackle their worries head-on and help them to understand the truth about vaccines.

People unlikely to get the jab, she explained, are 'largely characterised by what has been termed conservative libertarians and those who ascribe to natural health solutions and are sceptical of medical research'.

Professor Mills said it would be more effective to embrace those people's worries and try to address them, instead of criticising them. 

'It is important to address the need for information, rather than becoming embroiled in refuting groundless internet theories,' she wrote. 

The British Academy report found that 36 per cent of people in the UK say they are not likely to get a coronavirus vaccine when one is created.

Surveys show 27 per cent of people are 'uncertain' about whether they would get one, while nine per cent said they are 'very unlikely' to - equating to some 5.9million people.

If more than a third of people refuse to get vaccinated, developing a jab is unlikely to stop the outbreak at all.

For one to work it must achieve herd immunity, in which so many people have had the vaccine that the virus cannot find enough un-vaccinated people to spread between.

Even if the eventual vaccine cannot stop Covid-19 infection completely, it could reduce the severity of the disease and slash the death toll, squashing the virus to be something more like a cold than the deadly illness it is now. 

Professor Mills also warned that getting the vaccine out to tens of millions of people in the middle of an epidemic will be a logistical challenge.

Local councils will need support to encourage people in all groups to get the jabs, she said, and the public must be given a good understanding of who should get the vaccine first and why.

People most at risk from Covid-19 will be at the top of list when a vaccine becomes available, the Government has confirmed.

This will start with the extremely vulnerable or those most likely to spread it, such as care home residents, the elderly or people who are shielding, and health and care workers.

The jab will then likely trickle down through vulnerable age groups, people with serious health conditions, and then to healthier, younger people at the end.

During this time, 'non-pharmaceutical interventions' - such as social distancing rules and lockdowns - will have to continue to keep the virus under control. 

'Vaccines and vaccination are two very different things,' Professor Mills added.

'To achieve the estimated 80 per cent uptake of the vaccine required for community protection, we need a serious, well-funded and community-based public engagement strategy.' 

The report comes as sources revealed GCHQ has launched a cyber counter-attack against anti-vaccine propaganda spread by Russia. 

The spy agency has begun its cyber operation targeting hostile states and is using a toolkit developed to tackle recruitment material shared by Islamic State.

The activity being targeted is linked to Moscow, which is thought to be attempting to exploit the chaos caused by the pandemic to undermine the West and strengthen its own interests.

It is the latest step in the government's bid to tackle a rising tide of fake information being spread about a vaccine.

The need to shutdown such information is growing increasingly more important as scientists close in on a reliable vaccine against Covid-19.


  1. Imagine that, will ya? A vaccine for something that doesn't even exist, can't be proven to exist, cannot be isolated to show it exists - but we just can't wait to take a shot with our very own Luciferase in it - with a patent of 060606.

    They're laughing at you

  2. Even a majority of doctors and nurses say they will not risk taking a rushed vaccine.