‘No real science’ to stop people vaccinated against Covid from seeing each other - or to stop travel

Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:13 am
More than 25 million people have been given their first vaccine dose in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)
More than 25 million people have been given their first vaccine dose in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)

People who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 should be allowed to visit each other, an expert has said.

Professor Tim Spector, who leads the Covid Symptom Tracker app study run by King’s College London, has suggested that there is ‘no real science’ to stop those who are inoculated from meeting up.

Consideration for mental health

Prof Spector argues that consideration now needs to be given to the mental state of people who have been kept apart from their loved ones for a long time, particularly the elderly.

With the success of the vaccine rollout in the UK so far, which has seen more than 25 million people receive their first dose, it has been suggested that the rules restricting people from seeing each other need to start being relaxed.

He said: “I think we’re actually in a much better place than many people are telling us, and I, for one, I’m not worried too much about what’s happening abroad.

“I think we need to start talking about when people who have been vaccinated can start seeing other vaccinated people.

“And there’s no real science now stopping, for example, me seeing my vaccinated mother in a care home or, you know, wherever they live.

“So I think we need to start moving to this next area and realise that our plan is working, and that we were doing well.”

UK should be led by science

Prof Spector argued that if the UK was being led by the science then allowing people to meet up could be brought forward, and would take place sooner than the current date on the road map out of lockdown.

However, he argued that the UK is instead being led by politics and said he could “see the arguments for not splitting the country into two”.

He explained that the optimum scenario would be where both people have had two doses of the vaccine, although it would be unlikely people would become seriously ill after just one dose.

Prof Spector said: “The dangers after one dose are certainly that you’re not going to get anything that’s going to put you into hospital.

“You might get mild disease possibly in a really rare occurrence, but you know these are still going to be very rare.

“I think ideally, yes, wait for both vaccines for both people, but I think once you’ve gone over a month after your first one, most people are going to be safe to see people who are free of Covid and themselves vaccinated.”

‘No scientific rationale’ to stop travel

Prof Spector also said that there is no scientific rationale to stop people who are vaccinated against coronavirus from travelling.

While strict bans on travel abroad have been imposed in an effort to prevent new Covid-19 variants from entering the UK, he argued that the idea that borders can stop viruses moving has been disproved many times.

He explained: “I think this is a bit of a smokescreen, and I think we do need to realise why we have areas of the country that are hard to get rid of the virus.

“Anyone travelling from an area of low Covid to an area of high Covid is obviously putting themselves more at risk of getting infected, so that’s a consideration even within this country.

“But if you’ve been vaccinated, and many of the elderly people have, there’s no scientific rationale to stop them from travelling.”

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, argued that the government’s decision to curtail travel will not prevent the problem of new variants spreading, it will simply just delay it.

He said: “The maxim for border closures in a highly internet-connected world, the kind we live in at the moment, is that they delay, but do not prevent the arrival of new pathogens or new variants of an existing pathogen.

“If the government chooses to curtail travel, that will not prevent the problem, that will not prevent the next wave.

“The idea that somehow bringing in extra cases from overseas tips the balance and sends us into an epidemic we wouldn’t have had without that is just simply wrong.”

“It can delay the arrival of these new variants, but it’s very unlikely we can stop them. Delaying is good if you use the time, so what are we going to do with the time that we bought by delaying it?

“And I think the government has to think very, very hard about why it needs to delay, what strategies it’s going to put in place.”