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Covid will end when herd immunity achieved, says top Hampshire medical officer

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HERD immunity is the key to bringing an official end to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a top Hampshire medical officer.

At a Hampshire County Council meeting in Winchester, the pathway to the end of the pandemic was laid out in front of councillors, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, outlined the criteria that must be met – and when the pandemic might be over.

Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System (photo: David George)
Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System (photo: David George)

Dr Sandeman said: "It will end when we have herd immunity – that’s the only way out of the pandemic.

"Covid-19 will still be around, but in smaller numbers. There comes a point where it stops spreading, and the evidence suggests that occurs when around 80% of people are immune.

"By June we could see the pandemic disappear. The only thing that could change that would be further mutations."

At the meeting, health professionals urged everyone to get their booster jabs once they are eligible.

Vulnerable people remain the key targets, with 70% of care home residents already receiving their booster jab.

Following the 11th November deadline for mandatory vaccination of care home staff, the county council is now in the process of terminating 22 employee contracts.

"While we see Europe falling over itself, it is our high level of vaccinations that is protecting us," Dr Sandeman said.

"The NHS is busy but is safe, and the vaccine is the safest way through."

He added that the NHS will be in for a difficult winter, with the UK "robbed" of natural resilience and a backlog of patients awaiting treatment.

Simon Bryant, HCC’s director of public health, said he has been encouraged by the effectiveness of the vaccine.

He said: "It’s all community spread at the moment and there are no issues we need to be particularly concerned about.

"The roll-out of the vaccine in schools is also going very well in Hampshire.

"I would urge everyone to take up the vaccine, whether that’s the booster or those who haven’t taken up the vaccine previously – especially pregnant women."

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