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Covid-19 vaccine roll-out won't provide herd immunity quickly: Experts

SYDNEY: The roll-out of coronavirus vaccines in many countries will not provide herd immunity from the global pandemic this year, health experts said yesterday, citing limited access for poor countries, community trust problems and potential virus mutations.

"We won't get back to normal quickly," Professor Dale Fisher, chairman of the World Health Organisation's Outbreak Alert and Response Network, told the Reuters Next conference.

"We know we need to get to herd immunity and we need that in a majority of countries, so we are not going to see that in 2021," Prof Fisher said.

"There might be some countries that achieve it, but even then that will not create 'normal' especially in terms of border controls."

That was a best-case scenario based on current knowledge of the vaccines being rolled out, Prof Fisher said.

Herd immunity means enough people in a population have immunity to effectively stop a disease from spreading.

University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono said a dangerous over-reliance on vaccines by some governments meant herd immunity would not be achieved in the near term.

Dr Riono said: "...surveillance like testing... communications, to educate public to practice low-risk behaviour, is also important because the vaccine itself needs time to cover most of the people who need it."

Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 90 million yesterday, according to a Reuters tally. - REUTERS

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