China’s top coronavirus expert has warned that ‘herd immunity’ will not contain the global pandemic because the disease is highly infectious and lethal.
The Chinese senior medical adviser rebuked UK’s approach to allow citizens to catch the virus to build up a national tolerance strong enough to stop the virus circulating.
‘Herd immunity won’t solve the problem,’ Dr Zhong Nanshan said in a press conference today.
‘We don’t yet have the evidence to prove that if you are infected once, you would be immune for life.’
‘Our next step is to develop effective vaccines, which requires global cooperation,’ he added.
The killer virus has claimed at least 71 deaths and infected nearly 2,000 people in the UK.
The Chinese senior medical adviser (pictured) rebuked UK’s approach to allow citizens to catch the virus to build up a national tolerance strong enough to stop the virus circulating
Dr Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak of the new coronavirus, is pictured visiting a hospital in Wuhan in January
This comes as China has launched its first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine on Monday and the researchers said they are prepared for large-scale production.
Dr Zhong Nanshan also pointed out there was a lack of preparation for medical workers in Wuhan fighting on the front line, which led to thousands of medics being infected with the virus.
The 46th Coronavirus Prevention Media Conference was hosted by the Guangzhou government in Guangdong Province of southern China, featuring a panel of top experts and medics.
Dr Zhong Nanshan also pointed out there was a lack of preparation for medical workers in Wuhan fighting on the front line, which led to thousands of medics being infected
The leading medical advisor said last week that the current pattern of the outbreaks outside of China was similar to the trajectory of the outbreak in Wuhan in its early days. The picture shows him attending an oath-taking ceremony
The leading medical advisor said last week that the current pattern of the outbreaks outside of China was similar to the trajectory of the outbreak in Wuhan in its early days.
He urged nations around the world to step up their efforts to control and prevent the virus in order to defeat the pandemic.
Boris Johnson and his team of scientific advisers revealed last Thursday that the aim of the Government’s approach is to slow the progress of the virus as it sweeps through the population, rather than following other countries in immediately shutting schools or banning public gatherings.
But chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said around 60 per cent of the population – 40 million people – will need to catch the virus to build up a national tolerance strong enough to stop the virus circulating.
Boris Johnson announced only the most seriously ill will be tested with others who notice symptoms encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days
A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site, set up in a car park in Wolverhampton
The World Health Organisation has slammed the approach to allow UK citizens to develop ‘herd immunity’ against the potentially deadly infection.
Dr Margaret Harris from WHO slammed the UK’s decision to aim for mass immunity, saying that not enough is known about the virus to allow millions to become infected.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We don’t know enough about the science of this virus, it hasn’t been in our population for long enough for us to know what it does in immunological terms.
The World Health Organisation’s spokesman Dr Margaret Harris has criticised the Government’s controversial approach to allow UK citizens to develop ‘herd immunity’ against coronavirus
‘Every virus functions differently in your body and stimulates a different immunological profile.
‘We can talk theories, but at the moment we are really facing a situation where we have got to look at action.’
But the UK Government is not following the advice of the health chief, instead limiting testing to patients in hospital with serious breathing problems.
NHS England had announced an increase in testing capabilities which would allow them to carry out 10,000 tests a day.
But after the UK moved from the ‘containment’ phase to ‘delay’, the Government accepted millions would be infected and testing was no longer a priority.
A scientific report on the coronavirus crisis forced the Government to U-turn dramatically in its advice to the country on how to prevent the spread. Pictured: Medical staff collect a patient from an ambulance in Italy
Supermarkets are cracking down on what shoppers can purchase as panic about the coronavirus epidemic leads to wide-spread stockpiling. Pictured: Two men with trolleys full of goods are pictured outside a Costco store in Manchester
A man wearing a protective face mask stands on the Poland-German border crossing point in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany
This comes as the Prime Minister set out the need for ‘drastic action’ on Monday to tackle the ‘fast growth’ of coronavirus across the UK and increased social distancing measures are introduced for the population.
All people should avoid gatherings and crowded places, while people who are vulnerable – including those who are elderly – will need to undertake even more drastic measures.
The measures were announced as the death toll of people with coronavirus in the UK reached 55.
The deadly disease has infected nearly 200,000 people globally and claimed at least 7,947 lives, with Europe now becomes the new epicentre of the coronavirus.
WHAT IS HERD IMMUNITY?
Herd immunity is a situation in which a population of people is protected from a disease because so many of them are unaffected by it that it cannot spread.
To cause an outbreak a disease-causing bacteria or virus must have a continuous supply of potential victims who are not immune to it.
Immunity is when your body knows exactly how to fight off a certain type of infection because it has encountered it before, either by having the illness in the past or through a vaccine.
When a virus or bacteria enters the body the immune system creates substances called antibodies, which are designed to destroy one specific type of bug.
When these have been created once, some of them remain in the body and the body also remembers how to make them again. This provides long-term protection, or immunity, against an illness.
If nobody is immune to an illness – as was the case at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak – it can spread like wildfire.
However, if, for example, half of people have developed immunity – from a past infection or a vaccine – there are only half as many people the illness can spread to.
As more and more people become immune the bug finds it harder and harder to spread until its pool of victims becomes so small it can no longer spread at all.
The threshold for herd immunity is different for various illnesses, depending on how contagious they are – for measles, around 95 per cent of people must be vaccinated to it spreading.
For polio, which is less contagious, the threshold is about 80-85 per cent, according to the Oxford Vaccine Group.