The push to vaccinate all adults over 18 in the UK could lead to the concentration of Covid-19 cases in school children, a leading British virologist has warned.
Those under 18 would then become reservoirs in which new variants of the virus could emerge, said Julian Tang of the University of Leicester.
Tang spoke as Public Health England revealed a 79% increase in one week in cases of the Delta variant of Covid, first identified in India. Now there is a race between the vaccination program and the emergence of a third wave of the virus, scientists say.
Many believe there is reason for cautious optimism that the vaccine will retain hospitalizations and deaths in the wake of the surge in the number of cases brought on by the partial release of lockdown measures last month, as well as the arrival of the Delta variant.
However, Tang gave a note of caution. The most recent data indicates that the main focus of infections is now in those under 30 who have not yet been widely vaccinated, he said. “The predominance of the Delta variant over the earlier Alpha variant now confirms a higher transmissibility over this earlier variant, and a much higher transmissibility over the parent virus,” he added.
As the Covid-19 vaccination program progressed in increasingly younger age groups, this process would bring the virus to those under the age of 18, who are not yet scheduled to be vaccinated. “As a result, the virus will become concentrated in school-age populations, which will eventually become a reservoir and driver of any epidemic resulting from the Delta variant, as well as being a critical point where new mutations can emerge,” Tang said. .
Such developments would increase pressure on the government to approve Covid vaccination programs for children and adolescents, although Liz Truss, the secretary for international trade, said last week that she understood that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization I would not recommend such a move any time soon.
The decision to vaccinate children has been criticized by world health leaders. They note that in low- and lower-middle-income countries, the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine has been so scarce that healthcare workers are not being immunized while hospitals are flooded with the sick and dying. They ask that these nations be prioritized for vaccination programs.
The government has also emphasized its commitment to lift the latest lockdown measures on July 19, an action that was postponed last week for four weeks to try to contain the growing number of cases. Such a move would remove final restrictions on social life in the UK, including sharing holiday homes, the nightclub and attending concerts.
“Crowded events provide a sense of well-being for many people,” said psychologist Professor John Drury of the University of Sussex. Observer. “People who don’t enjoy being in large crowds may not care about the latest restrictions still in place, but if the government continues to block or restrict major events, it could be a hammer blow for many people.”
Ivo Vlaev, a professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Warwick, added that if the government were forced to reintroduce Covid-19 restrictions in the future in response to a new wave of infections, it should be careful to avoid taking an approach. flashing “on-off”. .
“If some of the restrictions are reintroduced, it should be clear what the changes are and how people should act,” Vlaev said. “The advice should be short and direct, as there is some evidence that short messages are more effective in convincing people to change their behavior. Information on the outbreak and quarantine protocols must also be clear and consistent, and not open to interpretation. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism