'Rapidly mutating': Expert issues disturbing Covid vaccine warning

A vaccine expert has warned people will need to get a Covid-19 jab once a year to stay on top of the mutating virus.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), warned the new variants of the virus seen in Brazil, the UK and South Africa, which are more infectious than the strains to initially arrive on Australian shores, will not be the last.

“We are living in a world where coronavirus is so prevalent and rapidly mutating there are going to be new variants that pop up in all sorts of different countries,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday program.

Prof Harnden said it was likely the public will need to receive a tweaked vaccine annually to ensure protection against new strains.

“We may well be in a situation where we have to have an annual coronavirus vaccine much like we do with the flu vaccine... I think we have to get used to this.”

Woman receives a vaccine. Source: Getty Images
The coronavirus vaccine is likely to become an annual jab. Source: Getty Images

Single dose may only provide 33 per cent immunity

His warning comes as new research indicated a single dose of the vaccine could only provide a 33 per cent level of immunity.

Prof Harnden said he was analysing a study from Israel that contradicts vaccine developer Pfizer’s preliminary claims that protection from a single dose was “vey high”.

In the UK the federal government has adopted a plan that will see everyone in need of the vaccine receive a jab, meaning people will be made to wait for their second.

Australia’s vaccine roll-out strategy does not detail a time period between first and second doses, however, it is unlikely the federal government would adopt a similar strategy to the UK due to the low levels of transmission in the community.

Photo shows crowds of people, some wearing masks and some not, on an Aussie street Source: Getty Images
Most Australians should be vaccinated by October. Source: Getty Images

Prof Harnden said despite the study’s findings, he was confident the UK’s plan would “save many lives” across the country.

Australia’s vaccine is expected to be rolled out next month.

Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy said the aim is to have everyone vaccinated by October.

Last week he gave a bitter blow to Australians warning it is unlikely overseas travel would occur in 2021.

He also reiterated there is no guarantee the vaccine will prevent transmission.

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