he Coronavirus vaccine will only have a “marginal impact” on hospital numbers over the winter, the UK’s chief medical officers have warned.
Festive gatherings are likely to put additional pressure on healthcare services, with a tough few months still ahead,
The group – which includes England’s Professor Chris Whitty – said. They also warned they did not expect the virus to “disappear” even once full vaccination had occurred.
It comes as preparations are continuing to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from as early as Tuesday in what has been described as “one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced”.
GP surgeries in England have also been told to be ready to start staffing Covid-19 vaccination centres by December 14.
In a letter to colleagues, the four chief medical officers said this winter would be “especially hard” for the health service due to coronavirus.
“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,” they said.
“The actions and self-discipline of the whole population during lockdowns and other restrictions have helped reduce the peak and in most parts of the four nations hospital numbers are likely to fall over the next few weeks, but not everywhere.
“The social mixing which occurs around Christmas may well put additional pressure on hospitals and general practice in the New Year and we need to be ready for that.”
The letter, signed by chief medical officer of England, Professor Chris Whitty; of Scotland, Dr Gregor Smith; of Wales, Dr Frank Atherton; and of Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride, said they did not expect the virus to “disappear” even once full vaccination had occurred.
The first jabs will be administered in each of the UK nations on Tuesday. In Northern Ireland it will be administered at a mass vaccination centre at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, while in Wales frontline NHS and social care staff will receive the…
— to www.standard.co.uk