Sunday, 17 Jan 2021

Covid vaccine will only have ‘a marginal impact’ at first, warns Chris Whitty and UK CMOs

Coronavirus vaccine: There are 'hurdles to overcome' says expert

The highly-anticipated Covid vaccine is unlikely to spark a major reduction in the number of coronavirus cases for at least three months, warned Chris Whitty, and the three other UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). The UK’s medical regulator approved the first Covid vaccine’s use across the country earlier this week, with a nationwide rollout expected to start in just a few days’ time.

The CMOs expressed their concerns in an open letter to the entire healthcare profession.

While news of the incoming vaccine provides us with something to look forward to, there’s still a lot of work to be done in containing the virus, they warned.

They don’t even expect Covid to be eradicated once the vaccination rollout has been completed.

It’s crucial that we still maintain current use of Personal Protective Equipment and other measures, urged the CMOs, including Northern Ireland CMO Dr Michael McBridge, Scotland CMO Dr Gregor Smith, and Wales CMO Dr Frank Atherton.

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“Although the very welcome news about vaccines means that we can look forward to 2021 with greater optimism, vaccine deployment will have only a marginal impact in reducing numbers coming into the health service with COVID over the next three months,” the CMOs wrote.

“We do not expect COVID to disappear even once full vaccination has occurred although it will be substantially less important as a cause of mortality and morbidity.

“It is therefore absolutely essential that we use the next months to learn as much as we can as we expect COVID to be less common in the future.

“This will allow us to have the best chance of a strong evidence base for managing it over the coming years.”

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Winter is always a challenging time of year for the medical profession, they added.

Historically, the prevalence of flu and other season diseases tends to increase over winter.

It’s believed that’s because the spread of infections is easier in indoor settings.

More people are likely to spend indoors during the winter months, seeing as it’s colder outside with wet weather.

The CMOs also warned that the increase in social contact around the Christmas period may have a knock-on effect on hospital admissions.

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson announced that Covid restrictions would be softened across the whole of the UK.

Three households can merge into one support bubble for the festive period, so that families can spend time with each other over Christmas.

The rules come into effect December 23, and will be lasting until December 27.

Some of the Covid vaccines have already arrived in the UK, meanwhile, it’s been confirmed.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for mass use across the country earlier this month by the UK’s medical regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The UK ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which should be enough to vaccinate around 20m people.

It’s believed that 800,000 doses should be arriving in the UK by the end of next week, with mass vaccinations expected to start imminently.

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