Living with Covid

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After some last minute delays caused by disagreement between the Treasury and health department about funds for Covid testing, the government has set out its strategy for “living with Covid”.

Announcing cuts to the Covid legal regulations in England, the prime minister said that “the end to restrictions will return people’s freedom and mark a moment of pride as we begin to learn to live with Covid”. He went on to suggest that vulnerable people should be treated with the “utmost consideration” and people should try to “avoid spreading the virus”, but urged people to return to workplaces “with confidence.”

The emphasis will now be on “personal responsibility”, with vaccines and antivirals as the “primary line of defence”.

There is now a wide debate and even petitions about the changes; in particular, two aspects are contentious: from Thursday, February 24 people with symptoms will no longer need to self-isolate, and from Friday, April 1 free testing for the general public will end.

Devolved governments, opposition politicians, some experts, many in the extremely vulnerable category and even WHO officials have questioned the changes. Some have reminded that the threat from Covid has not gone away and that to drop the legal requirement to self-isolate, if infected, is premature and poses heightened risks.

The two top government advisers have also indicated caution. England’s chief medical officer said that: “the advice, although not the law, is still to isolate if you catch Covid”. The chief scientific adviser warned that “further variants of Covid are expected and they could be more severe”.

Responsibility will now fall to local authorities to manage further outbreaks using pre-existing legal powers.

Details of how the changes will affect the operation of the NHS, the care structure and many businesses are now awaited.

Vaccinations

“From the spring” and six months after previous jabs, additional boosters will be offered to people aged 75 or over, residents in care homes, and anyone aged 12 or above who is immunity suppressed.

In the autumn, additional groups at greater risk, are likely to be offered a further booster jab.

At the Rye centre, before the latest announcements, numbers coming forward for vaccinations were dwindling. We await instructions from the clinical commissioners and NHS England about any part the centre might play in this next phase.

An issue that also awaits more clarity is the previously announced programme for children aged five to 11 years old in England. We have been told that this group will be offered a low-dose Covid vaccine, perhaps “after Easter.” Naturally, parental choice will be respected.

One of our concerns is that volunteers in vaccination facilities, who have relied on tests to monitor risks could also lose their access to kits.

Much detail to come?

Rye Vaccination Centre on Mason Road, Rye, TN31 7BE, led by Clarity Chemists. Details are @ryepfizer.

Image Credits: UK Government .

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