Our rapid review into ‘COVID-19: Preparing for the future’ identifies key challenges that are likely to put additional pressures on the health and social care system over the autumn and winter of 2021/22, and outlines a series of options to mitigate their impact.Launched
COVID-19: looking ahead to winter 2021-22 and beyond
This project launched on 15 July 2021 - find out more and read the press release in our associated news article.
At the request of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, one year on from the publication of our report ‘Preparing for a challenging winter 2020/21’, the Academy has published a rapid review into ‘COVID-19: Preparing for the future’. This review identifies key challenges that are likely to put additional pressures on the health and social care system over the autumn and winter, and outlines a series of options to mitigate their impact.
The report highlights that despite a highly successful vaccination campaign in the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We must sustain our efforts to limit the transmission and impacts of the virus. Over the next few months, the UK health and social care system is likely to face three key challenges, namely:
- A resurgence of respiratory infectious diseases, including COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
- Pressures resulting from the wider health and wellbeing impacts of the pandemic, including long COVID and the impact of delayed care seeking.
- Continued disruptions to health and social care delivery.
To mitigate the impact of these challenges and prepare for the winter period and beyond, our rapid review emphasises that the summer must be used to:
- Maximise the speed and uptake of COVID-19 vaccination, and prepare for possible booster vaccines and vaccination against influenza later in the year.
- Increase the ability of people with COVID-19 to self-isolate through financial and other support.
- Boost capacity in the NHS to build resilience against future outbreaks of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and reduce the backlog of non-COVID-19 care.
- Provide clear guidance about environmental and behavioural precautions that individuals and organisations can take to protect themselves and others from infection.
In working to achieve these priorities and address the challenges ahead, efforts need to focus on promoting the resilience of communities, populations and the health and social care system. While there is an understandable and intense desire for ‘normality’ to return, approaches will need to be adaptable and flexible to deal with a changing and uncertain landscape for the foreseeable future. Reducing health inequalities and developing rigorous, evidence-based approaches that are co-developed with relevant communities will be critical to the design and delivery of a successful and equitable response to the challenges that face us.
An Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Sir Stephen Holgate CBE FMedSci, contributed to the development of this report (see ‘Expert Advisory Group and additional expertise’ tab). Their discussions were informed by a Patient and Carer Reference Group, and a series of public discussion workshops led by Ipsos MORI (see ‘Public involvement activities’ tab).
The full report, public summary, perspective piece from the Patient and Carer Reference Group, and Ipsos MORI’s summary of findings from the public discussion workshops are available to download on the right-hand side of this page.
An Expert Advisory Group was convened to inform this project, representing a broad range of expertise across public health, epidemiology, infectious diseases, health and social care systems, modelling, immunology, mental health, behaviour, among others, and patient and public representatives.
The preparation of the report was also supported by a small group of early to mid-career researchers, and informed by the views of patients, carers and members of the public (see ‘Public involvement activities’ tab).
The project was chaired by Professor Sir Stephen Holgate CBE FMedSci, Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology, University of Southampton. Expert Advisory Group members and the early to mid-career researchers that contributed to this project are listed below.
Expert Advisory Group
Professor Sir Stephen Holgate CBE FMedSci, Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology, University of Southampton.
Expert Advisory Group members
- Dr William Bird MBE, GP, Reading & Chief Executive Officer, Intelligent Health
- Dr Adrian Boyle, VP Policy, Royal College of Emergency Medicine
- Professor Chris Butler FMedSci, Professor of Primary Care, University of Oxford
- Professor Stuart Elborn CBE, Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast
- Dr Nigel Field, Director, Centre of Molecular Epidemiology and Translational Research, Institute for Global Health, University College London
- Professor Tamsin Ford CBE FMedSci, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cambridge
- Professor Azra Ghani MBE FMedSci, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London
- Professor Adam Gordon, Professor of the Care Older People, University of Nottingham
- Professor Andrew Hayward, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Inclusion Health Research, University College London
- Professor David Heymann FMedSci, Professor and Chair, Infectious Disease Epidemiology; Head and Senior Fellow, Centre on Global Health Security, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- Professor Nick Hopkins, Professor of Psychology, University of Dundee
- Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE PMedSci, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University College London; President, Academy of Medical Sciences
- Professor Kamlesh Khunti FMedSci, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes & Vascular Medicine, University of Leicester
- Lynn Laidlaw, Co-Chair, Patient and Carer Reference Group
- Professor Ronan Lyons, Clinical Professor of Public Health, Swansea University
- Professor Dame Theresa Marteau DBE FMedSci, Director of Behaviour and Health Research Unit, University of Cambridge
- Professor Graham Medley OBE, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
- Professor Dame Julie Moore DBE, Professor of Healthcare Systems, University of Warwick
- Professor Catherine Noakes OBE, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings, University of Leeds
- Professor Peter Openshaw FMedSci, Professor of Experimental Medicine, Imperial College London
- Professor Sharon Peacock CBE FMedSci, Executive Director and Chair, COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium
- Steve Rees, VP, Discovery Biology, Discovery Sciences, R&D, AstraZeneca
- Dr Louise Sigfrid, Clinical Research Fellow, Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, University of Oxford
- Dr Charlotte Summers, Reader in Intensive Care Medicine and Co-Lead of Perioperative, Acute, Critical Care and Emergency Medicine (PACE) Section, University of Cambridge
- Professor Russell Viner, Professor in Adolescent Health, University College London
- Professor Sir Simon Wessely FMedSci, Regius Professor of Psychiatry, King's College London
- Colin Wilkinson, Co-Chair, Patient and Carer Reference Group
- Professor Lucy Yardley, Professor of Health Psychology, University of Southampton and University of Bristol
Additional expertise (early to mid-career researchers)
- Dr Shoba Amarnath, Newcastle University Research Fellow, Newcastle University
- Dr Heather Bailey, Lecturer in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University College London
- Dr Gemma Clarke, Marie Curie Senior Research Fellow in Palliative Care, University of Leeds
- Dr Mariachiara Di Cesare, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Middlesex University and Honorary Research Fellow in Population Health, Imperial College London
- Dr Upkar Gill, Clinical Lecturer/Medical Research Foundation Early Career Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant Hepatologist, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK
- Dr Sally Hargreaves, Assistant Professor in Global Health, St George’s Hospital University of London
- Dr Guy Harling, Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Global Health, University College London
- Dr Stephen Makin, Senior Clinical Lecturer, Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen
- Dr Grace Okoli, Clinical Lecturer, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
- Dr Ruth Payne, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Specialist Registrar Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Sheffield
- Dr Reecha Sofat, Clinical Pharmacologist and Senior Clinical Lecturer, University College London
- Dr Sarah Tansley, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Rheumatology, University of Bath and University of Bristol
- Dr Yihua Wang, Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, University of Southampton
The Academy undertook a supporting programme of public dialogue and involvement to ensure a broad range of voices were represented throughout the project. The Academy re-engaged participants from its 2020 project, allowing for the collection of people’s perspectives over time, while also reaching out to new members of the public to provide a fresh perspective.
Our public involvement activities for this project were supported by grants from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.
Patient and Carer Reference Group
The Academy reconvened and expanded the Patient and Carer Reference Group that was central to the 2020 report, bringing together people with diverse lived experiences to inform the project. The two co-Chairs of this group sat on the project’s Expert Advisory Group to feed patient and carer perspectives into the discussions and final advice. Members included:
- Lynn Laidlaw
- Colin Wilkinson
Patient and Carer Reference Group Members
- Winston Allamby
- Katherine Barrett
- Kimberlee Cole
- Sophie Evans
- Carol Liddle
- Nira Malde-Shah
- Noah Roberts
- Mandy Rudczenko
- Bo Rutter
- Isaac Samuels
- Sudhir Shah
A perspective piece from the Patient and Carer Reference Group – which focuses on the need for continued public involvement in designing services, mitigations and communications, and the necessity to provide support at a community level to tackle inequalities – is provided in Annex 1 of the ‘COVID-19: preparing for the future’ report. It is also available to download as a standalone document on the right hand side of this page.
Public dialogue workshops
The Academy also worked with Ipsos MORI to deliver a series of online public dialogue workshops to gather perspectives from people from a wide range of demographics across the UK. Where possible, the Academy focused on the voices of those disproportionately affected by COVID-19, such as individuals from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those who received shielding letters during the pandemic. A summary of initial findings is provided in Annex 3 of the ‘COVID-19: preparing for the future’ report. The full report of the public discussion workshops is also available to download on the right hand side of this page.
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