Covid-19 is no longer a disease of the vaccinated, the head of the Oxford jab program has said.
The “ongoing horror” of patients gasping for breath in the hospital is now “largely limited” to people who are unvaccinated, according to Professor Sir Andrew Pollard.
Although the more transmissible Delta variant continues to infect thousands, most of those who are fully vaccinated will only experience “mild infections” that are “a little more than an unpleasant inconvenience”.
Pollard wrote to The Guardian, saying: “Among the general public, the pandemic is still considered a silent plague, visible in the images of patients fighting for their next breath … This ongoing horror, which takes place across intensive care units in the UK, is now largely restricted to unvaccinated individuals.
“In general, Covid-19 is no longer a disease of the vaccinated; vaccines tend to limit its suffocating disorder, with a few exceptions.”
Researchers are hoping that the rollout of booster jabs and immunity from this summer’s spread of the Delta variant should help Britain escape the rise in infections seen in parts of Europe.
The UK, which saw the measures eased in the summer and has higher vaccination levels than some European countries, is unlikely to be hit as hard, Pollard said. “In countries with lower vaccination rates, the impact of the current wave on hospital wards will be far worse than in the UK.”
However, Pollard, one of the proponents of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, said Covid would still put pressure on the NHS this winter – with unvaccinated patients requiring intensive care and double-jabbed patients being elderly and frail , who still risk becoming “life-threatening” health problems.
“The latest wave of the virus in the UK, which is now rising rapidly in parts of Europe, will directly result in a stream of mostly unvaccinated patients coming to the intensive care unit,” he said in the article in collaboration with Professor Brian Angus , Professor of Infectious Diseases. disease at the University of Oxford. “To prevent serious illness, these people need the first and second dose of the vaccine as soon as possible.
“For those of us who are fortunate enough to have been vaccinated, the story now looks very different. For most vaccinated individuals, these mild infections are little more than an unpleasant inconvenience.”
But for those who are very weak, immunocompromised, or have underlying health conditions, Pollard and Angus said, Covid infections can still be “enough to destabilize them” and cause “serious, life-threatening health problems that increase the pressure on the NHS.”
Prof Peter Openshaw, of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told BBC Breakfast on Monday that he was pleased that the UK could currently avoid the imposition of measures in Europe.
However, he added: “I am concerned that we really have quite high levels of transmission in the UK. My personal preference would be that we should really try to bring these rates down – we know that masks work … because there are people who are unvaccinated for various reasons and we have to try to reduce the circulation level of the virus, as well as bring up the vaccination rates.
“No single measure in itself will be a success; we need the combination of measures, which include re-vaccination, third doses, but also wearing masks and being very careful not to transmit the virus. “