April 9, 2021
The UK is set to pass the threshold for herd immunity from COVID-19 on Monday, according to new modelling from University College London (UCL).
The real-time modelling shows that the number of people who have protection against the virus through either vaccination or previous infection will reach 73.4 per cent on 12 April.
This would mean sufficient resistance will have been built up within the community to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Despite this finding, Professor Karl Friston of UCL warned against easing lockdown restrictions too soon.
“If we let up, that threshold will go up again and we will find ourselves below the threshold and it will explode again,” he told Sky News.
Other experts have challenged the modelling. Dr Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told The Independent the modelling approach used to produce the analysis “has a history of making over-confident and over-optimistic predictions”.
For instance, Kucharski noted that the UCL model had previously predicted that the UK’s second wave would reach a peak of around 31 deaths a day, when in fact nearly 500 fatalities were being recorded during the November surge, before a high of 1,361 deaths was later reached in the winter wave.
“There is currently a lot of uncertainty about vaccine effectiveness on reducing transmission, the duration of vaccine protection, characteristics of new variants, and the future control measures countries may keep in place or relax,” Dr Kucharski said.
“However, it is not clear from the online model description how it incorporates these uncertainties, or what has been updated since it made its predictions.”