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#AskJVT - Q&A with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam joined Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain to answer the nation's questions on vaccine safety, schools reopening, the roadmap out of lockdown and the vaccine's effectiveness.

Is there evidence the current vaccines are fully effective against all variants?

We've just got quite a lot of really good evidence about the vaccines we've deployed in the UK and the headline results are that in healthcare workers we are reducing infections both symptomatic and asymptomatic after 1 dose by over 75% and that goes up to about 85% after the second dose.

We also have data from Public Health England on the over-80s and there are very clear signs the vaccines we've got are reducing the chance of infections, the likelihood of being hospitalised and the likelihood of dying in the over-80s if you have one does.

The Scottish data is really impressive and shows hospital admissions after a vaccines are reduced by 85%.

And that data was collected after the Kent variant became the dominant virus.

As schools reopen on 8 March when will we know the impact of unlocking schools?

When children mix they are not at risk but undoubtedly there will be occasions when infections are brought into households.

As we open schools in one direction we are pressing down on the virus in the other direction and more and more of our vulnerable cohorts are being vaccinated.

From that perspective we just keep going as fast as we can with the vaccination, we're taking out of the line of fire those older people in households we probably won't see the impact of opening schools that we might have done in the pre-vaccination era.

Is the vaccine safe for women who are thinking of starting a family?

Right now if you are pregnant and have very serious health conditions you might die of Covid. Have a conversation with your doctor about whether it is the right thing for you to do.

There is no evidence at all that there are any issues at all in relation to planning a family or fertility so if you're in a risk position and you're called then my advice would be to take the vaccine.

What was the biggest mistake by experts in this pandemic?

I think it would be that from SARS, which is a coronavirus, from MERS, which was another potential pandemic threat what we understood initially was that the period of infectivity, the time you can pass it to others, was late in the illness for both of those.

The amount of asymptomatic transmission for SARS and MERS was very low and I don't think anywhere in the world there was a true appreciation for the asymptomatic transmission and pre-symptomatic transmission.

Watch the full Q&A above.

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