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Press release This small concession that we are all still at risk is just that – a small concession

31 August 2023 / Covid Action

The Government has finally been forced to concede that the Covid-19 Pandemic is not over, and that the virus is continuing to infect our communities.

According to the latest risk assessment by UKHSA, the latest new variant, BA.2.86, has a high number of mutations and has appeared in several countries in individuals without travel history.
Consequently, the autumn vaccination booster programme has been brought forward a month to start on 11 September.

But this booster programme is very limited, restricted as it is just to people in care homes for older people, the clinically vulnerable, those aged 65 and over, health and social care staff, and carers.
No other mitigation measures are proposed to prevent community transmission of this new variant and its mutations. Increasing Covid infection does not just mean more avoidable deaths (152 people died across the UK in the week ending 18 August according to the ONS) and the risk of Long Covid affecting many for years to come, but it also damages our NHS and the whole economy.

“Why are booster jabs not being offered to everyone who wants one?” asks Joan Twelves of the Covid Action campaign. “It’s several years now since the majority of the population were offered vaccination. Depending on illusory herd immunity and assuming everyone has already been infected is bad science, and ignores the reality, which is that one infection does not prevent all future infections. It further ignores the fact that Covid’s variants and mutations make re-infection all the more likely.”

“Take-up of previous booster programmes has been low because they were not publicised. Vaccine centres need to be reopened and a mass publicity campaign launched explaining why vaccination is still important.”

“Vaccination is not the only protection against Covid we need. Simple measures such as wearing good masks in all healthcare settings and crowded public spaces, and decent ventilation in schools and community buildings should be reintroduced.”

“If the government really wants to say that the pandemic is over then it should be taking measures to halt community transmission. For more than a year it has been in denial that the virus is still spreading and infecting us. It has been able to pretend that we are living with covid by withdrawing free tests and shutting down data collection and surveillance. This small concession that we are all still at risk is just that – a small concession.”

“With schools and colleges about to open, now is the time for a radical change in government policy on the virus. Offering free vaccinations to all, reintroducing testing and mask wearing, and installing decent ventilation is the least the government should be doing to protect us now as we are about to enter a hugely challenging period for our massively overstretched health service.”

COVID ACTION is a grassroots, activist campaign of individuals and affiliated labour and trade union organisations who came together in November 2020 to challenge the UK government’s approach to the pandemic.

We support an alternative strategy, aimed at eliminating community transmission of Covid-19. We are campaigning for this to be adopted by all political parties, the Westminster government, and the governments of the devolved nations, in order to save lives, prevent the collapse of the NHS and care systems, and stamp down on Covid-19 and all its variants.

An elimination strategy has been supported by numerous scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, and public health experts, and has been implemented by several countries around the world. We want to see Covid transmission driven down to the lowest possible levels, to stop more new variants emerging, and to end the continued threat to the lives, wellbeing, and economic potential of global communities.

Hashtag: #CovidActionNow
Email: info at covidaction dot uk

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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