The 'silent' threat which will still loom despite the Covid vaccine

Experts are warning people must learn to live with the coronavirus pandemic and not to pin hopes on a vaccine wiping out COVID-19.

Epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws from the University of NSW says while the a vaccine will prevent severe illness, there is no guarantee it will prevent people from spreading the virus amongst the community.

“There's still a high probability that even when we're vaccinated we may get silent or symptom-free Covid and we then might be able to theoretically pass it on to others,” the World Health Organisation advisor told Channel Nine’s Today show.

Prof McLaws said initial predictions that herd immunity from a vaccine may be found at about 66 per cent were too low.

In terms of age, over 70s will be prioritised in the vaccine rollout. Source: Getty
Australia will begin to roll out a vaccine from March. Source: Getty

“It could be way above 80 per cent given that this virus is becoming highly contagious,” she said.

Vaccine won’t lower infection rates: WHO

WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said this week there was no evidence vaccines were going to prevent people passing it onto others. It is expected the vaccine will reduce the severity of symptoms but will not stop the virus from being infectious.

“I don't believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it's going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on,” she told Nine Newspapers.

With no evidence vaccines stop the spread of the virus, the idea of a vaccine allowing the return of international travel appears somewhat defeated

Doctors have warned that the number of people being hopitalised with coronavirus has reached concerning rates. Source: AP
Doctors have warned that the number of people being hopitalised with coronavirus has reached concerning rates. Source: AP

Dr David Heymann, who led the World Health Organisation’s infectious disease unit during the SARS epidemic, previously said he believes COVID-19 will become endemic.

In October, he said many countries are wrongly treating a vaccine as a panacea, and that basic prevention methods such as good hygiene and social distancing must not be neglected.

“We have to learn to live with the pandemic,” he told think tank Chatham House.

New variants will make Covid endemic

The emergence this month of two highly-contagious virus variants from South Africa and the UK has only left experts further concerned the virus will unlikely be eradicated with a vaccine.

Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said with the evolution of the virus it is the “likely scenario” the virus will become endemic and continuously be among the community at a certain level.

Drugmakers have downplayed concerns vaccines will not be effective against the new variants and confirmation from testing would be provided in weeks.

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