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The first coronavirus vaccine may not prevent people catching the bug and could only alleviate symptoms, scientists have warned.
Experts warned ministers the vaccine is unlikely to be fully effective, which places the country's exit strategy in question.
Though first generation vaccine might not allow a quick return to normal life, it may offer 50% protection according to scientists at Oxford University.
The vaccine could be available by the first half of next year, but Brits will need to remain cautious as the initial vaccine may only be "partially effective", reports The Times.
Once the vaccine is introduced, social distancing measures are highly likely to stay in place.
A government source told the paper: "It depends on what we find.
"It seems the most likely outcome in the short to medium term is to find a vaccine, or two doses of a vaccine, that reduces the severity of symptoms."
Rather than blocking the infection completely, booster shots may also be given monthly after the first jab.
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It has also been warned if the vaccine has a 50% level of protection, herd immunity is unlikely to be successful.
Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at charity the Wellcome Trust, added: "We need to manage everyone’s expectations on what these first frontrunners of vaccines can actually do.
"There’s a lot of hope, understandably, resting on a vaccine that is going to be this wonderful one dose (that will give) full lifetime immunity and move us back to normality the next day — but it’s not going to be the perfect solution; it’s not going to be the silver bullet."
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Nations around the world are working on developing a vaccine for Covid-19 at an unprecedented speed.
On Monday Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's chief scientific adviser, said while a few doses of an effective vaccine may be available by the end of the year, it's far more likely to become widely available in the first half of 2021.
A large study testing AstraZeneca's promising vaccine was put on hold earlier this month after a participant suffered a suspected serious adverse reaction.
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