UEA scientist warns against surge vaccination to combat Indian variant

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. Photo: Bill Smith

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the UEA, has warned against surge Covid vaccination - Credit: Archant © 2013

A Norwich-based expert in infectious diseases has warned against using 'surge vaccination' to combat the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant. 

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said intensifying the vaccine rollout in specific areas may not be advisable in the long run. 

A lab technician doing research with test tubes

Less than 10 cases of the Indian Covid variant have thus far been identified in Norfolk - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Less than 10 cases of the Indian strain have thus far been identified in Norfolk, but some areas, such as Bolton, have seen a sharp spike in infections. 

Boris Johnson has professed to the government being "anxious" about the variant and refused to rule out further local lockdowns. 

But Prof Hunter, who specialises in the transmission of emerging infectious diseases, believes the vaccination programme should continue in its current form.

"Say you take lots of supply from Norwich and give it to Birmingham, for example, you are looking at three weeks before vaccines are given and take effect," he said.

"If, in time, infections start to spread to Norwich, we will have given our vaccines away.

"If we had an unlimited supply then of course we would be surge vaccinating. But you have to ask, would we be making the wrong decision by taking it from areas which do not currently have a problem, but may well do in a couple of weeks time?

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. Photo: Bill Smith

Paul Hunter, from the UEA, believes the Covid vaccine rollout should continue in its current form - Credit: Archant © 2013

Most Read

"My view is we should carry on the rollout as we are doing."

On Thursday, Prof Hunter admitted the increasing prevalence of the Indian strain had cast doubt on the UK making its final step out of lockdown on June 21.

He said he "would not argue" with the assertion of modellers from SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) who do not think the government's roadmap can go ahead as planned. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson has hailed what he says has been a 'truly national effort'.

Boris Johnson has admitted the government is "anxious" about the Indian Covid variant - Credit: Hannah McKay/PA Images

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter