In Focus

How many people need to be vaccinated to get life back to normal?

Birmingham and Nottinghamshire kick off 24-hour jab trials

Two NHS trusts have become the first in the country to begin round-the-clock vaccinations.

The University Hospitals of Birmingham and Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Forest Hospitals have been chosen to pilot 24/7 campaigns, after Boris Johnson last week pledged to extend opening hours once vaccine supplies allowed it.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said that starting today, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Heartlands and Good Hope would be “opening up a number of vaccination appointment slots specifically for our night staff, between 6pm and 8am”.

The vaccines will also be “offered to high-priority groups, including those aged over 80 and frontline health and social care workers”, the BBC adds.

How many vaccines so far?

The UK has administered a total of 4.72 million jabs so far, according to Oxford University tracking, meaning 6.69 per 100 people have been vaccinated.

This places it fourth in the world in terms of rolling out the vaccine to the population behind Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

How many people need the jab?

Vaccinating the entire population could take up to a year, according to Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

In a co-authored article in the journal Anaesthesia, Farrar and Professor Tim Cook, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care, write: “The scale of the vaccination programme should not be underestimated: 1,000 vaccination centres each vaccinating 500 people a day for five days a week, without interruptions of supply or delivery, would take almost a year to provide two doses to the UK population.” 

Vaccinating the entire population may not be necessary, however, with some experts suggesting that concentrating on giving the jab to the most at-risk groups could mean a speedier return to normal life.

In an article published last month in the Journal of Medical Ethics, University of Oxford professor Julian Savulescu writes that “the exact percentage of the population that would need to be immune for herd immunity to be reached depends on various factors, but current estimates range up to 82%”.

But a recent report from actuaries, epidemiologists and longevity specialists in the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group says analysis of Covid mortality data suggests that “two priority groups alone cover two-thirds of the deaths”.

Vaccinating these two groups - “residents of care homes for older adults and their carers” and “all those 80 years of age and over and front-line health and social care workers” - could have “prevented about two-thirds of total Covid deaths we have seen to date”, the authors argue.

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