Coronavirus vaccine: Jab does not need to be compulsory, says WHO expert

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Polio eradication chair at the WHO, Professor David Salisbury, said he “is not persuaded” to make the coronavirus vaccine compulsory. He explained that depending on the efficacy of the vaccine only 60 percent of the population will need to take it for population immunity. Speaking to LBC, Professor Salisbury said: “I’m not persuaded that we need compulsion and certainly in this instance of the Covid vaccination, I wouldn’t be arguing for it at all.

“To me the bigger issue is the practicality of having enough vaccine to give it to enough people who want to be vaccinated.”

LBC presenter Tom Swarbrick asked: “Has working been done on the threshold that has to be met about the vaccine in order to be effective in the population?”

He added: “It depends on the efficacy of the vaccine, it depends on the uptake of the vaccine and it depends on background immunity that exists in the population at that time.

“With an efficacy of 90 percent, an uptake of around 60 percent would be the number you want to get population immunity. But there are so many variables.”

Scientists have since warned the prospect of an effective vaccine must not be used as an excuse to “ease up” on efforts to control transmission of the virus,

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), chaired by former Government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, said full transparency is essential to safeguard public confidence.

It called for full trial data on the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech to be made available as soon as possible.

A statement released by the group said the vaccine must be delivered by the public sector “to ensure efficiency and equity”.

Independent Sage agrees with the strategy of prioritising older age groups, those in residential care settings, care workers and NHS frontline staff.

But it also recommends that communities with the highest incidence of infection and most vulnerability to disease – areas of high deprivation, overcrowded housing and a high proportion of black and ethnic minority residents – should be given priority when rolling out vaccination.

In its statement on vaccination, Independent Sage said: “We must be careful not to ease up on our efforts to control the transmission of the virus across the UK just because the deployment of an effective vaccine is in sight.

“Rather we should continue to seek improvements in the whole process of find, test, trace, isolate and support.

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“Similarly, social distancing and hand and surface hygiene remain priorities and we continue to urge the government to reinstate the two-metre social distancing rule.

“The more that Covid-19 is under control the easier it will be to organise and implement a successful and effective vaccination campaign.”

Independent Sage member Professor Gabriel Scally is the president of the epidemiology & public health section at the Royal Society of Medicine.

He said: “We also feel that in discussions of the prioritisation of the vaccine – where it is being rolled out – when it goes to the local level, it should be used first in the communities where the incidence of infection is highest and where the vulnerability of the population is highest as well.”

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