The UK should stop the community testing for COVID-19, and only test those who become ill, a group of lawmakers heard.
Speaking virtually on Tuesday at an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus evidence hearing, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the absence of children at schools is “largely driven by the testing policies.”
“If you test a lot of children and show that there’s [sic] some cases, and you end up sending home their contacts or classes or even year groups, that has a huge impact,” MPs and Peers heard.
Pollard said that there’s no need to disrupt education en-mass because children, in general, don’t get severe COVID-19 symptoms from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, and those who are most susceptible to severe diseases will be offered vaccination.
“We probably should be moving to a situation where we’re clinically driven,” Pollard said.
“So someone is unwell, they should be tested. But for those contacts in the classroom, if they’re not unwell, and it makes sense for them to be in school and being educated.”
Pollard said he believes the testing of the adult population should also shift to clinical-driven testing.
“If we continue to chase community testing and worry about those results, we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re constantly boosting to try and deal with something which is not manageable.”
When the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the government to offer one dose of a CCP virus vaccine to all 16 to 17 year olds on Aug. 4, one of the factors the JCVI considered was the “mental health and education impacts of COVID-19 on children and young people.”
But Experts question the necessity of vaccinating children.
Pollard said that one of the strongest arguments that have been for vaccinating children is to protect adults, but in fact, the vaccination programme “doesn’t achieve that goal” because evidence shows that the CCP vaccines, while effective in preventing severe diseases, are not blocking the transmission of the virus.
Pollard also argued that it’s more useful to vaccinate adults “elsewhere in the world” than to give them to children.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert from the University of East Anglia, told the lawmakers that natural immunity should also be taken into consideration.
According to official data, 50.3 percent of 16 year olds and 58.6 percent of 17 year olds were estimated to have antibodies from natural infection by July 18.
Taking 17 year olds as an example, Hunter said the data suggests that about 80 to 90 percent of 17 year olds have “either already had the disease and have recovered from it, or are incubating the disease and have yet to develop antibodies” before the vaccination programme was expanded to include the age group.
Hunter said he has two concerns about vaccinating the age group that has largely been infected and recovered.
“One is, is it necessary to vaccinate that age group? And two is, do we know enough about potential side effects in teenagers who have already had the infection before they are vaccinated?” he questioned.
Hunter also acknowledged that there’s the possibility that one dose of a vaccine will boost the immune response in previously infected teenagers as the JCVI suggested.