2021-09-14 17:51:39 England Unveils Winter Covid Strategy
England Unveils Winter Covid Strategy
A plan to offer a booster vaccine to everyone over the age of 50 was announced on Tuesday as part of a winter coronavirus strategy for England designed to keep any new surge in cases from overwhelming the National Health Service while avoiding another lockdown.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, told members of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that additional vaccine doses would be made available to that group beginning next week. The decision comes after an announcement on Monday that children aged 12 to 15 will receive one vaccine shot.
The government has not completely ruled out another lockdown as part of its winter plan, presenting it as a last resort that would be considered only if England faced a new and highly transmissible variant.
Officials are attempting to avoid the type of lockdowns that have prevented people from seeing family and friends in most outdoor settings for months, while also preventing another catastrophic winter surge like the one that hit the country last year.
Mr. Javid stated that the government was preparing a “plan B” as a backup in the event that cases increased significantly, as some experts predict will happen during the winter months.
This includes reintroducing the requirement to wear face coverings in public places and on public transportation, as well as encouraging people to work from home whenever possible.
The government announced on Sunday that it would not proceed with a vaccine passport plan that would have required nightclubs and other venues in England to check the status of those attempting to enter.
However, it has left open the possibility of reviving the strategy if the situation worsens. “The link between cases, hospitalizations, and death has weakened significantly since the start of the pandemic, and Covid-19 deaths have been mercifully low compared to previous waves,”
Mr. Javid told lawmakers. “However, we must remain vigilant because autumn and winter are ideal seasons for Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses.” On Tuesday, government scientific advisers said it would be safe to “co-administer” additional vaccine doses alongside flu shots to older adults.
Mr. Javid told the BBC that, while another round of severe restrictions isn’t out of the question, “I just don’t see how we get to another lockdown.” Over the past year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has frequently faced pressure from a vocal group of lawmakers in his Conservative Party’s libertarian wing who campaigned for the repeal of coronavirus rules.
Mr. Johnson gave them a lot of what they wanted in July, easing most legal coronavirus restrictions on what the tabloid media dubbed “freedom day.” According to government data, Britain now averages about 30,000 new coronavirus cases and 1,000 hospital admissions per day.
While this is far less than the 100,000 predicted by some experts, government officials are concerned that another surge is possible as children return to school and the weather worsens throughout the fall and winter.
On Monday, British health officials approved a mass coronavirus vaccination program for children aged 12 to 15, despite the reservations of some medical experts who questioned whether the shots would provide significant benefit to children.
The decision was made by the chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland after weeks of speculation about whether children in that age group would be allowed to receive the shots.