Government focus on remaining vaccines as first line of defense during autumn and winter months
The final reinforcing decision of the JCVI is expected next week
Measures from the Coronavirus Act are expected to be repealed
The Prime Minister next week will determine the governments’ autumn and winter plan for Covid management.
Vaccines will continue to be our first line of defense during the fall and winter months, backed by new treatments, testing and a global variant surveillance system.
Due to the efforts and sacrifices of the public, our NHS, and the phenomenal success of vaccine proliferation, the vast majority of restrictions were lifted in England in Step 4 of the Roadmap on 19 July.
As of 9 September, almost 90% of the UK population over the age of 16 have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine, and over 80% have received both doses.
Recent data from Public Health in England show that vaccines against Covid are very effective against hospitalization of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), the dominant species in the UK. The analysis shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against two doses.
The winter months will bring new challenges. Covid will circulate alongside the flu and other respiratory viruses and the threat of a new variant remains. It is difficult to predict with certainty how these will interact and what pressure they may exert on the NHS.
Independent Committee of Experts The Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) was asked to consider a Covid vaccine promotion program. Their interim councils suggested planning booster vaccines to be distributed to those most affected by September 2021, to provide an increased level of protection during the winter.
The government expects to receive confirmation next week from JCVI on the details of a boosting vaccination program, with plans set to begin this month. This will boost immunity during the winter months, protecting against serious illness and death and volatile pressure on the NHS.
The government confirmed last week that those with compromised immunity will be offered a third primary dose. This is shared with the booster program, as those seeking a third primary dose had insufficient protection from two doses.
The Prime Minister is also expected to repeal powers in England that are no longer needed by the Coronavirus Act, as part of governments’ plan to manage Covid during the autumn and winter.
- Powers for closing sectors of the economy, such as business premises, or enforcing restrictions on events and gatherings.
- Powers that disrupt education, enabling temporary closure or restriction of access to schools, colleges and childcare.
- Competencies that extend deadlines for urgent guarantees. Powers to stop infectious people.
The vital powers of the Act will be preserved which are critical to protecting and supporting the public. This includes giving sick pay to those who are isolated from day one rather than day seven, instructing schools to stay open if closed against government guidelines, and helping the NHS get the emergency resources it needs.
Legal requirements will remain for someone to be isolated if tested positive, to protect those most vulnerable to infection, and to control the spread of variants. The Law on Coronavirus is separate from the Law on Public Health.
The prime minister is expected to hold a press conference next week to determine the next steps in responding to the pandemic.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said:
Thanks to the efforts of the public, the NHS and our phenomenal vaccination program, we have reached Step 4 in our Guide and life has returned to a sense of normalcy.
These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I am determined to get rid of any power we no longer need because of our vaccine protection.
I will soon define the next stage in our response to Covid.
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