A recent article published by the BMA (14/12/23) talked about learning to live with Covid-19. The article argues that while public interest in COVID-19 is declining, continued testing, vaccination, and mask-wearing remain important to controlling the pandemic over winter. Case rates are increasing as temperatures drop, coinciding with new variants emerging like BA.2.86. However, testing has drastically declined, creating uncertainty about true infection rates.
With cases likely to rise further over winter, the vaccination program continues to play a critical role in reducing severity. But the UK government has scaled back the booster program, excluding adults aged 50-64. Uptake in younger adults and some minority groups remains low, requiring targeted community engagement.
Healthcare worker vaccination is also important but uptake of boosters and flu shots has dropped substantially. Significant variation between NHS trusts suggests local promotion schemes play a role, providing lessons on how to improve engagement.
Although no longer required in public spaces, face masks are still effective at reducing transmission. Leaving implementation to individuals risks confusion. A national policy on mask-wearing in high-risk areas could be more effective if cases rise.
In conclusion, ongoing surveillance, vaccination, and mask use were vital initially and caution is still needed. These measures must continue to be employed effectively as new variants emerge and cases increase through winter.
The full article can read here.