British Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted on Sunday that it is “highly likely” that coronavirus vaccines will need to be administered every year alongside normal flu shots.
As the British government looks to introduce more draconian lockdown measures, the Health Secretary predicted vaccinations will need to be administered for the “foreseeable future”, amidst concerns that the inoculations against the Chinese virus may wear off.
“I think it’s highly likely that there will be a dual-vaccination programme for the foreseeable, this is the medium-term, of flu and Covid,” Hancock told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“Flu vaccination rates are at their highest level ever. Over 80 per cent of the over-65s have been vaccinated for flu this year. That’s the biggest increase, a jump on last year when it was around 70 per cent,” he said.
“That’s very good news. It’s good news for two reasons. Firstly, to protect people against flu and secondly because it shows the vast, vast majority of over-65s are up for getting vaccinated,” the Health Secretary concluded.
Some leading experts have warned that even if the majority of Brits do take the coronavirus jab, it is unlikely that life will return to normality in the coming year.
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The chairman of the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, Professor Peter Horby said that social distancing measures may need to be kept in effect until the end of the year, adding that he does not believe the vaccine will “return us to normal”.
“There will still be a large number of people being infected, and although the absolute risks of someone under the age of 80 dying or ending up in hospital are low, with a large number of infections that still translates into a lot of people and so we’re going to have to manage the virus, with social distancing measures as well as vaccination for the coming months,” Prof Horby said.
Professor Horby agreed with Mr Hancock’s assessment that coronavirus vaccinations may need to be readministered, at least “every few years”, in order to be effective in fighting off mutations of the virus, which he predicted “will not go away”.
“We’re going to have to live with it but that may change significantly. It may well become more of an endemic virus, that’s with us all the time and may cause some seasonal pressures and some excess deaths, but is not causing the huge disruption that we’re seeing now,” he said.
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Last week, Mr Hancock lashed out at the public for not abiding by the lockdown restrictions, claiming that success against fighting the rising cases in the country will be “down to people’s behaviour”.
The Health Secretary went on to call for everyone in Britain to act “as if they have the virus”.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that approximately two million people have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“We’re at about 2.4 million jabs all in across the whole of the UK,” Johnson said.
Mr Johnson went on to warn, however, that it is a “perilous moment” for the UK in its fight against the Chinese virus, claiming that some NHS facilities are even experiencing shortages of oxygen.
“The worst thing now for us is to allow success in rolling out a vaccine programme to breed any kind of complacency about the state of the pandemic,” the Prime Minister warned.
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