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This is a worrying start from Javid


Flu vaccination


Occasional Pulse columnist Dr Ellie Cannon posted an excellent thread on the easing of restrictions yesterday. She pointed out the four categories of death due to Covid laid out by Professor Chris Whitty at the start of the pandemic: first, Covid deaths despite the best medical treatment; second, Covid deaths that were due to the health service being overwhelmed; third, non-Covid deaths due to people not having medical treatment; finally, deaths from economic decline.

It is because of this that I have always been so circumspect when discussing the easing of restrictions. I find it jarring when I see anyone talking in absolute terms: ie, ‘lifting restrictions is just allowing people to die’, or the alternative, ‘can’t they see what the restrictions are doing to us all?’.

But what scares me is when I feel like decisions are being made due to political reasons. I felt this last year when Boris Johnson urged us to get back to commuting, or Rishi Sunak asked us to eat out to help out. And I can’t help but think that about the new health secretary’s desire to remove restrictions on 19 July, regardless of the data.

Cases are growing at almost 40% per week and it seems irresponsible that this is the point our ministers think is the right time to have ‘Freedom Day’ (a term that itself is pretty irresponsible).

When we did our profile of both Sajid Javid and Matt Hancock, it was clear that Mr Javid has always been eager to open up more quickly, while Mr Hancock favoured a more cautious approach. And, looking at his choice of words and his background, I can’t help but feel that Mr Javid is putting the economy first for political reasons.

Of course, it is great that the vaccination programme seems to have broken the link between cases and hospitalisation. But we are so close with vaccinating the population. The other categories listed by Professor Whitty will not be badly affected by remaining cautious for another month or so while GPs and others finish off second vaccines for all adults. Because Long Covid is real, and there is still the fear that vaccine-resistant variants will spring up.

This, to me, isn’t a great first step from a new health secretary. I hope I am proved wrong.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk.

READERS' COMMENTS [6]

Vinci Ho 7 July, 2021 11:56 am

As I said in our own monthly LMC meeting yesterday:
(1) If this pattern of rising cases of Covid ( mainly in the 20s and 30s age groups) happened 12 months ago , we were heading towards another lockdown . Obviously , our vaccines(in contrast to vaccines elsewhere in the world ) are proven to be very effective in prevent hospitalisations and deaths . That is scientifically undeniable fact . So this government has now taken an executive decision to ‘open everything’ from 19/7/2021 , in addition to lifting the requirement of face covering and practically social distancing ( even in healthcare settings ) . There is a desperate desire to return to ‘normal’ underpinned by our western values of freedom and liberty .
(2) Question is : can we afford the new ‘normal’ which is characterised by a contagion still spreading relentlessly in the country but with a very low death rate( probably about 0.1% in line with influenza, for instance) . Yes , we have ammunitions with more new vaccines as boosters to protect us against new mutated variants . There is however , a theory that the more the virus can spread , the more likely it can mutate ( though there may be an upper limit) .
The economy will bounce exponentially once everything is open up again .Though I am concerned of a phase(at least temporary)of inflation if you also look at the rest of the world right now. Interest rate will then have to be increased .
If a health secretary openly declared that the government is expecting up to 100,000 new cases of Covid daily once it lifted restrictions, he simply told you that we should be ‘fearless’.
‘Right’ thing can only be done at the ‘right’ time and place in history. Perhaps , it is only a fine line between audacity and stupidity. 😈
(3) As far as we(GPs) are concerned , we are up against this new ‘normal’ after 19th of July .
Are practices to open their doors wide open and allow patients NOT wearing any face covering to come in ?
What happened when staff developed fever , cough , headaches , sore throat etc from now on ?
Yes , no isolation if you have no double vaccinations after being exposed to a positive case but still need to isolate if you are tested posted . What is the impact on workforce otherwise?
(4) Giving flu vaccines and Covid booster appear to be an excellent idea but have that been thought through properly ?
JCVI said categorically that the trial result of COV-Booster will determine which vaccine(s) to be used as the booster but results are only likely available later in September .
Quintessentially , without details of logistics particularly on vaccine supplies , NHSE/I had already set the first week of September as our phase 3 vaccination dates and the window of completion is only 3 months to finish in December ( obviously looking at a good Christmas with all the extremely vulnerable ones etc . protected ) . This is also coupled with the the most egregious idea of health checks ( BP and pulse checks ) at the same time of the double vaccination.
(5) Apart from dealing with all the backlog of workloads in primary care , the inevitable transfer (dumping if you like ) of the workloads secondary care failing to deal with is in fact , endangering patients ‘ safety in my opinion . Mental health problems , cancers , Long Covid (whatever the true definition is ) are all hitting headlines right now .
Last thing we need is an exponential rise in Covid cases together with a flu endemic , albeit the number of deaths are presumably ‘low’.

The new health secretary( and those government propaganda media) might think that frontline GPs are always moaning or even uncooperative, but the question remains , ‘how realistic is this government?’
The optimist always looked up and hence , lost his footings falling down .
The pessimist always looked down and hence , banged cracking his head open
The realist looked straight and negotiated his/her way around the corners meticulously🧐🤨

Patrufini Duffy 7 July, 2021 3:06 pm

The NHS is not smart. You are. But, you matter very little to it, as you sit on the High Street in boiling water. Remember that as you move forward. Wake up, or be awoken by the irreversible. Good luck, sincerely.

Paul Cundy 7 July, 2021 5:10 pm

But if we can’t ease lockdown when everyone in the population has been offered full vaccination, when can we? Once you’ve done all you can you need to move on. We can’t afford the planet to be held hostage chasing ever diminishing returns. There’s a balance to be met here and i think its tipped.
Regards
Paul C

Douglas Callow 7 July, 2021 5:17 pm

its tricky Paul you are right UK PLC is £3 trillion in debt (quantative easing funding hedge fund and banks loaning huge amounts of money out to increase demand for housing stoking up prices not fixing housing crisis and consumer goods arguably adding to global warning ) and is overdrawn on the day to day current account too at highest level since Labour left office.
How it will pan out is anyone’s guess but 2 million 30 something’s infected over summer is an unknown quantity and its less than clear we wont just see new more virulent variants

Concerned GP 7 July, 2021 11:35 pm

You won’t be proved wrong Jaimie. Sadly many more people will suffer as a result of Johnson and Javid’s ignorance. After all the mistakes this govt has made, this is simply unforgivable. And no I am not in favour of endless lockdowns. I just happen to think we can open up much more cautiously and retain certain policies such as masks etc in healthcare, public transport and certain in door settings. It really is not that big a “sacrifice”.

Sam Macphie 9 July, 2021 1:51 pm

What is the real name of ” concerned GP “? ( or is it hidden behind a mask perhaps? )