Dr Fauci says anti-vaxxers will stop the world eradicating coronavirus

Anti-vaxxers in the UK, US and other countries could stop the world from eradicating coronavirus, warns top US disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci

  • Top American expert compared Covid-19 to the measles outbreaks in the US
  • Although the vaccine for the disease is 98 per cent effective, these still occur
  • He warned this was due to problems with uptake due to anti-vaxx movements
  • And said the situation was likely to be very similar for jabs against Covid-19

Anti-vaxx movements could stop the UK, US and other countries from eradicating coronavirus, America’s top infectious disease expert has warned.

Dr Anthony Fauci — one of the most trusted clinicians in the US — compared efforts to wipe out Covid to measles. Both are spread through infectious droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes. 

He said: ‘Measles has a spectacularly effective vaccine, it is 98 per cent effective at preventing infection.

‘And yet because of the failings of the vaccination programmes in different parts of the world as well as the anti-vaxx feelings some countries have — I know the UK are experiencing that, just as the US is — you have to have a uniform acceptance of the vaccine in order to really eradicate an infection.’

Dr Fauci told Radio 4’s How to Vaccinate the World programme: ‘I think that would be a difficult goal to achieve, at least right now.’  

Number 10 fears uptake will peak at about 75 per cent of Britons — around 50million people. Around 12.3million Britons have already had their first dose. Approximately 41million Americans have been vaccinated. 

Numerous surveys have shown ethnic minorities — who studies have shown are up to three times as likely to die from Covid — are more reluctant to get the jabs due to a mistrust in the Government.  

Dr Fauci has warned that anti-vaxx movements could stop countries from eradicating Covid-19. He is pictured at a press conference on January 21

Mufti Zubair Bult, a Muslim imam and chaplain, receives the Covid-19 vaccine at Whetley Medical Centre in Bradford. The vaccines minister has warned of lower uptake in ethnic minorities as Boris Johnson launches efforts to ensure everyone gets their jabs

Dr Fauci warned it would be a ‘difficult goal’ to get rid of Covid-19 because of vaccine resistance in the population.

He said it was not clear what level of immunisation was needed to achieve ‘herd immunity’, when a disease stops spreading because enough people are protected.

But he pointed to measles where around nine in 10 need to be immunised to stop this virus spreading in the community.

‘We know for measles it is about 90 per cent and once you get into the 80s you get breakthrough infections as we’ve seen sadly in the US,’ he said.

‘But as for SARS-CoV-2, although it’s still an estimate I think it’s somewhere between 70 and 85 per cent of the population that would need to be vaccinated or will have needed to have been infected before you can say you do have herd immunity.’

He added herd immunity was most likely possible to achieve for individual countries where an ‘overwhelming’ proportion of the population had been vaccinated.

‘I think it is achievable in the UK, I think it’s achievable in the EU as well as in the US,’ he said. ‘Some countries that don’t have the resources to do that it might take a bit longer.’ 

Nadhim Zahawi, the Covid jab deployment minister, revealed last week 85 per cent of Britons were planning to get the jab, heralding it as the highest uptake in any jabs programme ever run by the NHS. 

But Mr Zahawi, who was born in Iraq and moved to the UK aged nine, added although figures suggest uptake is high, vaccine hesitancy ‘is skewed heavily towards BAME communities’.

SAGE — number 10’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies — has warned low uptake among minority groups could pose a ‘significant risk’ to Britain’s vaccine drive if enough people turn the jab down.

The US-based Pew Research Centre found 60 per cent of Americans would get the jab in a survey published in December.

They said this was up 10 per cent from September, as the injections become more widely available in the country.

Only 21 per cent of adults said they would not get vaccinated and were ‘pretty certain’ more information would not change their mind. 

WHAT IS MEASLES, WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND HOW CAN YOU CATCH IT?

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from an infected person by coughing, sneezing or even just breathing.

Symptoms develop between six and 19 days after infection, and include a runny nose, cough, sore eyes, a fever and a rash.

The rash appears as red and blotchy marks on the hairline that travel down over several days, turning brown and eventually fading. 

Some children complain of disliking bright lights or develop white spots with red backgrounds on their tongue.

In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.

Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society told MailOnline: ‘Measles can be very serious. 

‘[It] can cause encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain. 

‘Encephalitis can result in death or disability.’

Treatment focuses on staying hydrated, resting and taking painkillers, if necessary.

Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old.

Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital 

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