Vaccinated people could still spread virus, warns medical chief

Head and shoulders picture of Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England - Credit: Contributed

People who have received a Covid-19 vaccine could still pass the virus on to others and should continue to follow lockdown rules, England's deputy chief medical officer has warned. 

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that if those who have been vaccinated begin easing off because they are protected, they are potentially putting at risk those further down the priority list who still need inoculation.  

His warning came as the latest Government figures showed the number receiving the first dose of the vaccine across the UK has passed 5.8 million, with a record 478,248 getting the jab in a single day.  

Mr Van-Tam, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said it was still not known if people who had been vaccinated could still pass on the virus to others, even though they were protected from falling ill themselves.  

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He wrote: "So even after you have had both doses of the vaccine you may still give Covid to someone else and the chains of transmission will then continue.  

"If you change your behaviour you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue.  


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"Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital that everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don't yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission.” 

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Mr Van-Tam also hit back at doctors who have criticised the decision to extend the gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine to 12 weeks.  

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The British Medical Association has written to the chief medical officer for England urging a rethink, saying that in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a maximum gap of six weeks had been mandated by the World Heath Organisation (WHO).  

Mr Van-Tam said that extending the gap was the quickest way to get a first dose to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.  

Also this week, a further 32 vaccine sites are set to open across the country. 

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