WHO Covid update LIVE: Major announcement after terrifying new alert – variant fears soar

Colin Brazier on possible Chinese 'cover-up' of COVID origin

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The WHO is expected to make the announcement at a press briefing at 3pm this afternoon, but fears of another Covid wave are already erupting globally. It comes after experts gave stark warnings yesterday over the severity of the Delta variant first seen in India last October. One Oxford scientist said the variant had wrecked that world’s chances of achieving herd immunity altogether.

Sir Andrew Pollard, Oxford Vaccine Group Director, told MPs on Tuesday that the Delta strain could still infect vaccinated individuals, making herd immunity “impossible”.

“We know very clearly with coronavirus that this current variant, the Delta variant, will still infect people who have been vaccinated and that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated, at some point, will meet the virus,” Sir Andrew said.

“I think we are in a situation here with this current variant where herd immunity is not a possibility because it still affects vaccinated individuals.”

Not only that, the Covid expert warned we might see “a variant which is even better at transmitting in vaccinated populations.”

According to Sir Andrew, this means we should not be making a vaccine programme based around herd immunity.

READ MORE: Herd immunity ‘not possible’ with the Delta variant – stark warning by Oxford scientist

The deadly Delta variant has now torn through 132 countries and contributed significantly to the death toll of 131,000 UK citizens.

The WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan previous said Delta was a warning we must heed before more dangerous variants emerge, which led to fears of fresh lockdown restrictions among newly freed Britons.

Yesterday’s warning over herd immunity came as another expert in the field warned the pandemic could be “closer to the beginning than the end”.

Leading epidemiologist Dr Larry Brilliant made the brutal statement based on the figure that only 15 per cent of the global population has been vaccinated.

Dr Brilliant said: “Unless we vaccinate everyone in 200-plus countries, there will still be new variants.”

He predicted Covid will become a “forever virus” and said booster shots should be a priority this autumn, but the warning remained: Covid is not going anywhere.

LIVE UPDATES TO FOLLOW…

08:55 Third jab ‘likely’ for a small number of people, vaccination expert says

A third coronavirus jab will ‘quite likely’ be required for a small percentage of the population, a vaccination expert has said. 

Professor Adam Finn, sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the Government on vaccine policy, and said people with a weak immune system are likely to need a booster. 

It is still unclear whether a booster jab will be needed for all over-50s however. 

Professor Finn told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve been asked to advise as to who might receive a booster if it proves necessary to give boosters,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“I think it’s becoming quite clear that there are a small group of people whose immune responses to the first two doses are likely to be inadequate – people who’ve got immunosuppression of one kind or another, perhaps because they’ve got immunodeficiency or they’ve been receiving treatment for cancer or bone marrow transplants or organ transplants, that kind of thing.

“I think it’s quite likely we’ll be advising on a third dose for some of those groups.

“A broader booster programme is still uncertain, we’ve laid out potential plans so that the logistics of that can be put together, alongside the flu vaccine programme.

“We need to review evidence as to whether people who receive vaccines early on in the programme are in any serious risk of getting serious disease and whether the protection they’ve got from those first two doses is still strong – we clearly don’t want to be giving vaccines to people that don’t need them.”

08:40 Covid 'unlikely to be eradicated entirely'

A Government scientific adviser has said Covid is unlikely to be eradicated entirely but the “nature of the virus” meant it would become a seasonal infection.

Andrew Hayward, of University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, and the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, also told BBC Radio 4’s Today that Covid would likely continue to mutate, meaning true herd immunity was unlikely.

The professor said: “I think the nature of this infection and the nature of the vaccines is such that the level of immunity that is achieved is not enough to consider that.

“If someone could come up with a vaccine that was not only 95 percent protective against severe disease but 95 percent protective against infection then, yes, we would stand a chance of eradicating it.”

He added: “I think it is a pretty distant prospect and we need to get used to the concept that this will become what we call an endemic disease rather than a pandemic disease.

“A disease that is with us all the time – probably transmits seasonally a bit like influenza where we see winter outbreaks.”

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