Social distancing could stay all year no matter how well Covid vaccines work

Brits could be following social distancing rules all year unless a vaccine is 85 per cent effective in stopping infections, ministers have been told.

A huge spike in coronavirus deaths has reportedly been predicted if jabs fail to significantly cut infection rates.

Many experts believe vaccines will reduce transmissions by around 60 per cent under the best-case scenario, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

A University of Warwick paper says that even if vaccines stop 85 per cent of transmissions, current lockdown measures will have to remain in place until the end of May to prevent another surge in deaths.

This research was carried out by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which is a part of SAGE, and has been given to Downing Street.

Dr Sam Moore, an epidemiological modeller at the University of Warwick, told the Telegraph: "The vaccines are not going be 100 per cent effective at stopping serious disease.

"So if you manage to get, say, 85 per cent of people to take it and it turns out to be 90 per cent effective, that's still 25 per cent of people who could die from it, which is a lot of people."

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The Telegraph reports that the university warned: "Our predictions highlight the population-level risks of early relaxation leading to a pronounced wave of infection, hospital admissions and deaths.

"Only vaccines that offer high infection-blocking efficacy with high uptake in the general population allow relaxation of social distancing without a huge surge in deaths."

The modelling suggests that lifting restrictions in the middle of February would result in a spike of deaths similar to last spring.

It claims that even if vaccines have an 85 per cent efficacy by this time, deaths would reach just under 1,000 a day, compared with almost 1,500 a day if they had 60 per cent efficacy.

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