People in Britain are set to get their first shots of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, with millions of doses being given over the next few months. The mass vaccination of the UK’s population should bring an end to the country’s Covid-19 misery, but how long will it take for this immunisation programme to make a difference to our lives – and what will be the first signs that salvation is on the way?
These key issues will be anxiously pursued as the battle against Covid proceeds and daily cases involving the new virus variant continue to spread. However, scientists have warned that simply waiting for a reduction in new cases is not the way to tell whether the vaccine is starting to have an impact.
This point was stressed by Professor Adam Finn of Bristol University. “In February, we may see a big decline in the numbers of cases,” he told the Observer. “That would be good news, but we wouldn’t know whether the drop was due to the vaccine, to lockdown measures or to some other factor.
“Conversely, case numbers may go up in February and March, and you might reach the false conclusion that the vaccine was not working when, in fact, the rise was due to other factors, and the increase in daily cases would have been even higher had we not been vaccinating.
“So just looking at overall trends isn’t going to give us answers in the short term. Obviously, we expect the vaccine to have an effect but we will need to be clever about how we find the first signals that say it is working.”
One project that should provide the first indication that the national vaccination programme is having a beneficial impact is being carried out at Bristol University and involves cases of pneumonia. In a case control study, doctors will compare people who are suffering from pneumonia and test positive for Covid-19 with patients who have pneumonia but test negative for the virus. Read from source….