In response to the publication of the Government’s COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan, Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:
“I am pleased to see the Government’s plan for how to tackle COVID-19 this autumn and winter. It brings together many of the measures from the Academy’s report to address the risks the winter months will bring, when conditions are ripe for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) to spread.
“The pandemic has taught us that to minimise the spread of COVID-19, and potential pressures on the NHS, it is essential to act fast and early, bring the virus back under control, and prevent higher levels of transmission later on.
“Although the numbers of hospital admissions are currently creeping up, we now have effective vaccines and a wealth of knowledge that we didn’t have when approaching winter last year. Good planning and fast action are essential to pre-empt significant health challenges and we must work together to combat severe illness in autumn and winter this year.
“Living with COVID-19 requires finding a balance that maximises risk reduction while minimising the impacts on our working and day to day lives. This includes getting the COVID-19 and flu vaccines, isolating and getting tested when sick, wearing a face mask when in crowded indoor spaces, reducing the number of contacts and working from home if and when appropriate. These are the things that will make for a healthier winter and keep the level of COVID-19 transmission down so we can carry on our lives as close to normal as possible.
“As highlighted in today’s plan, one of the main aims right now must be to maximise the uptake of vaccines, firstly targeting the roughly 20% of the adult population in the UK who remain unvaccinated. The offer of booster jabs to over 50s and those most at risk is welcome news as we know that immunity wanes over time. I am pleased these boosters are to be given alongside the flu jab, as part of an expanded flu vaccination programme – something the Academy proposed in our recent COVID-19: preparing for the future report.
“Whatever challenges the coming winter brings, it is vital that we work with patients, the public and communities to coproduce information that supports people in their decision making and enables them to follow measures required to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection. Working together we can limit the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and enable the NHS to deliver the wide range of services we all need.”
To read more about our report COVID-19: preparing for the future visit this page