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Here at London Medical Concierge we keenly believe in the importance of preventative healthcare and the role vaccines play in that.
To celebrate World Immunization Week 2020 one of our excellent partner GPs, Dr Martin Saweirs, has answered some key questions about the importance of vaccines and the role they will play in ending this pandemic.
Thanks so much for agreeing to answer some questions for our members Dr Martin. We’ve seen lots of discussion in the news recently about vaccines, so why is it so important that we continue to get vaccinated and make sure our children are vaccinated?
‘Childhood vaccinations have been one of the biggest and most important public health measures that have vastly reduced cases of serious preventable diseases over many years. However, over recent years, vaccination rates have started to slip and as a result diseases like measles are starting to see increased numbers amongst children across the UK and Europe. Given the situation with covid-19, it is paramount we continue to make sure important routine health measures are being taken - we're already seeing more young children presenting to emergency departments later in illnesses due to concerns with going to hospitals. Allowing vaccination rates to slip further, be that for fear of going to your GP or clinic, could lead to some diseases making a resurgence as we fall below levels needed for herd immunity to be effective.’
Could you explain how this herd immunity works?
‘As a new infection spreads amongst a population, gradually, those who survive development antibodies and are immune to the infection. Herd immunity happens when enough of the population have had the infection, and developed immunity, to effectively leave very few susceptible people for the infection to spread to. The level of population immunity needed to bring about herd immunity varies between different types of infection, but is thought to be around 80-90% on the whole. Once about this level of a population has recovered from an illness, it has few new people to spread to and as the "herd" is immune, cases fall.’
We’ve heard a lot about the need for herd immunity in combatting the pandemic. How are vaccines likely to be used in the fight against Covid-19?
‘Vaccines have been in development for previous coronavirus infections that have cause outbreaks, such as SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012. These vaccines were ultimately shelved due to lack of large scale need. However, those scientists and manufacturers who had begun developing vaccines, along with others who have changed the ways in which vaccines can be developed are drawing on their experience to try and rapidly develop an effective vaccine for Covid-19. There are many challenges ahead and along the way - any usual vaccine can take up to 5-10 years to develop, test and be approved for use in humans - but the need is so pressing with Covid-19, organisations have compressed these processes and have even already started human trials. The best case scenario is an effective and safe vaccine before the end of 2020, but it is probably more realistic to hope for this in early to mid-2021, but regardless, the research and development continues at a blistering and previously unseen pace.’
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions Dr Martin! If you or your family have any concerns regarding your health please contact us here to see how we can help.