Covid

Coronavirus live: herd immunity ‘no longer a goal’ amid concern over South African variant’s resistance to vaccine | World news

According to researchers, herd immunity can no longer be the target of Covid vaccines after the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine does not stop people with the South African variant from getting mild or moderate illness.

Oxford and AZ did a small study of 2,000 younger people in South Africa to see if the vaccine protects against the variant. According to the scientists involved, who have not yet published it, they didn’t get seriously ill, or ended up hospitalized, or died – although their youth, with an average age of 31, would make them less likely anyway. But the vaccination didn’t stop them from getting Covid, albeit a milder one.

Prof. Shabir Madhi of the University of the Witwatersrand and chief researcher on the study in South Africa pointed out that recent data from studies with the new Janssen vaccine (which has not yet been approved) showed that it still protects people from serious diseases The effectiveness was reduced in milder diseases.

“These results calibrate thinking about how to approach the pandemic virus and shift the focus from the goal of herd immunity to transmission to protecting all those at risk in the population from serious illness,” Madhi said.

Andrew Pollard, professor of pediatric infection and immunity and lead investigator for the Oxford vaccine study, said the goal must be to prevent people from ending up in the hospital and dying.

“This study confirms that the pandemic coronavirus is expected to find ways to spread further in vaccinated populations. Given the encouraging results of other studies in South Africa using a similar viral vector, vaccines can continue to reduce the burden on health care systems by preventing serious diseases, ”he said.

Like other vaccine developers, Oxford and AstraZeneca are currently working on optimized vaccines that will prove to be tougher against the South African variant.

“Efforts are being made to develop a new generation of vaccines that will allow protection to be redirected to new variants as booster jabs if it is found necessary,” said Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccination science at Oxford.

“We are working with AstraZeneca to optimize the pipeline that will be required for an expansion change if it becomes necessary. This is the same problem that all vaccine developers face, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change. “

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Robert Dunfee