Routine vaccination of healthy children and teenagers against Covid is of little benefit to them and would not protect adults from the virus, according to a top infectious disease expert.
Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at Edinburgh University, said such a policy would only make sense if it completely stopped the spread of the virus – something that is no longer possible with the Delta variant.
Speaking on the BBC Sunday Show, Prof Riley said: “It’s quite clear now that the vaccines we have are very very good at preventing people ending up seriously ill in hospital with Covid, but they’re not so good at preventing infection and transmission with the Delta variant of the virus.
“And so even if we vaccinated everybody in the country, the virus would continue to circulate albeit at lower levels that otherwise, so we have to be very clear about what we are trying to do.
“I think the argument that vaccinating children is to protect their teachers, their parents, their grandparents, I think we can probably put that to one side now because we know that even if the kids are vaccinated they are still potentially able to transmit the virus.
“If we want to protect people we have to protect them by vaccinating them but not by relying on somebody else to be vaccinated, so the question then is who really needs a vaccine and for children under the age of 16 the evidence is that not many of them are going to benefit hugely from being vaccinated in terms of getting sick with Covid. Some will, but many won’t.”