Vaccinating to Protect Against Covid-19

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Vaccination offers the prospect of containing and reducing the risk of hospitalisations, and deaths due to Covid-19. The vaccine rollout is important for the rail industry because it provides the opportunity for restrictions to be eased so that people can travel more freely again.

In 2020, there was rapid development of several possible vaccines, with the first being approved for public use in December that year. A national vaccination programme was soon planned and deployed, offering inoculation to all adults as quickly as possible. 

The availability of vaccines is a key medical intervention in the fight against Covid-19 and signals the beginning of the transition from a pandemic to a post-pandemic world. As greater numbers of the UK population are vaccinated the conditions for the reduction and eventual removal of most social and behavioural restrictions is enhanced. Central considerations for the rail industry are the removal of constraints on mobility and travel and helping support passenger confidence. 

RSSB’s Horizon Scanning team are tasked with exploring emerging issues to identify and understand potential threats, opportunities and likely future developments. They have been working with a range of industry working groups on these matters since June 2020. By providing relevant information and increasing wider knowledge - decision makers will be able to plan how to exploit or mitigate these changes and secure the most positive outcome for their organisation.

The following presentation provides an easy-to-understand but comprehensive briefing about how vaccines are developed and how they work. The presentation also addresses some common concerns about vaccines and what might lie ahead. The information is distilled from the wide range of scanning work the team has undertaken on Covid-19 over the last year. 

Watch this short presentation below to find out how the Horizon Scanning team has helped, and what they have found.




At the end of the video the following list of resources are given:

  • Covid-19: Pfizer vaccine efficacy was 52% after first dose and 95% after second dose, paper shows, E. Mahase, British Medical Journal (11/12/20) 
  • Expert reaction to phase 3 results for the Pfizer/ BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine, The Science Media Centre (11/12/20)
  • Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine, Polack et. al., New England Journal of Medicine (10/12/20) 
  • Understanding mRNA COVID-19 VaccinesCentres for Disease Control and Prevention (23/11/20)
  • The Flu Shot and the Egg, L. Boerner, ACS Central Science (26/02/20)
  • The science of vaccine safety: Summary of meeting at WellcomeTrust Plotkin, et al. Vaccine(2020)
  • The role of herd immunity in control of measlesF. Black, Yale Journal of Biological Medicine (1982)
  • Evidence supports both T and B cell responses to the three leading vaccinesH Sewell et. al. British Medical Journal 17/12/20 
  • Vaccine effectiveness against any COVID-19 infection (SIREN)SIREN/PHE 23/02/21
  • Risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from newly-infected individuals with documented previous infection or vaccination 29/03/21 
  • COVID-19: analysing first vaccine effectiveness in the UK23/02/21 
  • Everything you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines The Pharmaceutical Journal 07/04/21


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Guy Yeomans and Claire Shooter