End Mace and Live With Covid, Says Former Vaccine Task Force Leader | Coronavirus


Covid should be treated as an endemic influenza-like virus, and ministers should end mass vaccination after the recall campaign, the former chairman of the UK vaccine task force said.

With health chiefs and senior Tories also pushing for a post-pandemic plan for a tense NHS, Dr Clive Dix called for a major overhaul of the UK’s Covid strategy, effectively reversing the approach of the two years and returning to a “new normal”.

“We need to analyze whether we are using the current recall campaign to ensure the protection of vulnerable people, if it is deemed necessary,” he said. “Population-based mass vaccination in the UK is now due to end. “

He said ministers should urgently support research into Covid’s immunity beyond antibodies to include B cells and T cells (white blood cells). This could help create vaccines for vulnerable people specific to Covid variants, he said, adding, “We now need to manage the disease, not the spread of the virus. The future goal is therefore to stop the progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups. “

His intervention comes as it has been revealed that more than 150,000 people across the UK have now died from Covid. Official figures released yesterday recorded 313 more deaths, the highest daily number since February of last year, when the last peak was in decline. This brings the total of deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 150,057. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, tweeted in response: “The coronavirus has wreaked havoc in our country and today the number of registered deaths reached 150,000.

Each of these is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them.

Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven’t already. “

Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, said the death toll was a “dark step for our country”. Daily infections fell to 146,390 yesterday.

NHS officials warn patient safety has been compromised this winter due to a crippling shortage of health and social care workers that would require a million additional workers within the next decade. Write in the ObserverChris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the pandemic had exposed “its weakest links”.

“There is a clear and regrettable impact on the quality of care and, in the most stressed parts of the system, a worrying increase in risk to patient safety,” he writes. “It is now very clear that the NHS and our welfare system do not have sufficient capacity. It is simply not sustainable to ask staff to work harder and harder to close this gap. That we need a long-term, fully-funded workforce plan to attract and retain the 1 million additional health and care workers that the Health Foundation says will be needed by 2031 . “

Chris Hopson said the pandemic had exposed the “weakest links” of the NHS. Photograph: Jonathan Hordle / Rex / Shutterstock

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, also called for action, saying: “The pandemic highlighted the pressures on the workforce, but they were never news. We can’t fix them overnight, but we have a moral duty to the NHS and caregivers to look them in the eye after the hell of the past two years and say that a long term plan is in place. square.

Hopson said some NHS trusts outside London would see Covid hospitalizations rise even more than their previous record last year.

“There are already a number of trusts with Covid hospitalization levels at 100% of their January 2021 peak,” he said. “That’s before they’re anywhere near their current peaks. These organizations will likely be 10 days or two weeks away from their peak this time around.”

He also said he understood that up to 40% of care homes had stopped taking new admissions in the past week, making it difficult for hospitals to discharge patients. Stephen Chandler, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said social services were a “national emergency” because many staff were on sick leave.

A government spokesperson said “historic funding amounts” were being provided for NHS arrears and social care, adding: “Hospital admissions are increasing, but this is not yet translating into the same number intensive care needs that we have seen in previous waves. We are increasing the capacity of the NHS by building Nightingale hubs on-site, as well as creating 2,500 virtual beds where people can be treated safely at home. “

Dix’s remarks about ending mass immunization come as the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) decided fourth doses were not currently needed because most older people who had received boosters were still well protected against Omicron, three months after the start of the recall campaign. . The UK Health Safety Agency said protection for those over 65 was around 90%, three months after a booster shot. JCVI vice-chairman Professor Anthony Harnden said the committee is monitoring Omicron’s impact on the elderly and vulnerable on a weekly basis.

Rachel Gershom, 83, and other elderly people dance at an immunization party in Netanya, Israel, before receiving a fourth dose of the vaccine.
Rachel Gershom, 83, and other elderly people dance at an immunization party in Netanya, Israel, before receiving a fourth dose of the vaccine. Photograph: Ammar Awad / Reuters

There is a debate on the fourth doses. Last week, Israel became the first country to embark on a fourth round of Covid vaccinations, for those over 60 and healthcare workers who had their third vaccine at least three months ago. Greg Clark, the Conservative Chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, said a fourth dose of the vaccine should be considered for healthcare workers, adding: “The UK Health Security Agency has found that the impact of a third dose against Covid transmission decreases after 10 weeks. So, given staff shortages in the NHS due to self-isolation and the fact that NHS staff received their booster starting in mid-September, it would be worth the JCVI to consider whether an additional dose would help reduce absences of frontline staff. “

Dix has been instrumental in helping pharmaceutical companies create the Covid vaccines that have transformed the risk for most people. He said he supported the current recall campaign, but that a “new targeted strategy” was needed to bring the UK to a “Covid management” position. He added: “We should think about when we stop testing and let individuals self-isolate when they are not doing well and return to work when they feel ready, the same way we do when they feel ready. ‘a bad flu season. “

Dix said the government should support research and analysis of the effectiveness of vaccines in producing “memory B and T cell immunity” – parts of the immune system that recognize Covid – and in particular how they worked for those over 60 and vulnerable groups with underlying health conditions.

“With this data in hand, we should influence the manufacturers who have vaccines that have shown the most durable cellular responses to develop an Omicron vaccine and a Delta variant to cover the current mutation lines,” he said, adding that Professor Paul Moss and the Covid Immunology Consortium had provided “excellent groundwork” for this.

Professor Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said: “It all depends on whether another variant appears.

“A fourth dose or a second booster of the existing vaccine is unlikely to help much. The proof is that immunity against serious illness lasts much longer. The only justification for doing a second recall for the majority of the population would be if we saw clear evidence that people, five or six months after their recall, end up in hospital with severe Covid. “

Health experts are also concerned that the adoption of the booster vaccine last month was driven by the public’s desire not to disrupt the holiday season. Now that the fear is gone, it has removed some of the desire to get the vaccine. In addition, there is a widespread perception that Omicron is milder and less disturbing, added Simon Williams of Swansea University. “We call ‘variable fatigue’, which means people say ‘this is what viruses do; we just need to get on with our lives. It’s not great from a public health point of view.

However, child health expert Professor Helen Bedford of University College London has warned that there is a danger in grouping outright anti-vaccines with people who have lingering doubts about the getting a vaccine. “If you do this, you will miss the opportunity to persuade those who have genuine concerns but who might change their mind and get vaccinated. It doesn’t help to criticize them all like bullshit.


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