Coronavirus: preparing for challenges this winter

The Academy has launched a rapid review exploring the challenges we might face this winter when coronavirus and other seasonal diseases are present, and how the UK can prepare for this.

Launched

The UK must prepare now for another potential wave of COVID-19 this winter that could be more serious than that seen in spring 2020. The need for health and social care usually peaks in the winter, when the NHS and social care systems typically operate at or close to maximal capacity. Combined with a backlog of non-COVID-19 care, the disruption to the delivery of care caused by the first wave of COVID-19 and the risk of a winter influenza epidemic, a resurgence of COVID-19 this winter poses a serious risk to health.

Our rapid review emphasises that there is a need for urgent action, with a window for preparation from now until the end of the summer. Preparation needs to be based on the best quality scientific advice and must be developed through active engagement with patients, carers, the public and healthcare professionals. There is also a need for excellent co-ordination, collaboration and sharing of information – including data on the spread of disease – at all levels.

 Prevention and mitigation strategies must focus on:

  • Minimising the transmission and impact of COVID-19 in the community.
  • Organising health and social care settings to maximise infection control and ensure that COVID-19 and routine care can take place in parallel.
  • Improving public health surveillance for COVID-19, influenza and other winter diseases.
  • Minimising influenza transmission and impact.

The actions set out in this report should enable the health and social care system to better cope in the face of new winter pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and thereby help to protect the health of the nation and save as many lives as possible.

An Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Stephen Holgate CBE FMedSci, contributed to the development of this report (see ‘Expert Advisory Group’ tab). Their discussions were informed by a Patient and Carer Reference Group, and a series of public, patient and carer workshops led by Ipsos MORI (see ‘Public, patient and carer input’ tab).

The full report, summary and a perspective piece from the Patient and Carer Reference Group are available to download on the right-hand side of this page.

Further information is also available in our associated news article.

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