Faster booster jabs, a wonder pill and falling infection rates delivered a triple boost in the fight against COVID.
From Monday the double vaccinated will be able to book their third dose a month earlier than before, and in a second significant development, a new antiviral pill has been found to cut the risk of vulnerable people being hospitalised or dying from coronavirus.
And official figures revealed that the infection rate and the R rate have both fallen, and cases have dropped by a third in a fortnight, from 49,298 to 34,029.
One expert said the latest figures suggested that coronavirus infections may now have peaked across England, and ministers have met with fierce criticism over booster jabs, with the sluggish pace of the rollout blamed for high case numbers.
So far third doses could only be booked when they became due, six months after a second jab. That resulted in people waiting six weeks for a convenient appointment, at a time when their immunity was fading.
But next week the vaccine can be booked a month in advance online or by calling 119.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told a newspaper outlet that ahead of the peak winter season three really important developments gave them hope and that the best thing that anyone could do, to keep the virus at bay, was to get jabbed if they haven’t already or their booster as soon as they’re eligible.
He added that COVID 19 vaccines were the best way to protect ahead of the challenging winter and that this shift in the booking system would make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs.
He said that this would expedite the booster programme and ensure that the NHS was able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and more importantly help more people maintain protection against COVID 19 as they know that immunity will decline over time, and they advised people not to delay and to come and get the jab to keep the virus at bay.
Ministers had expected to offer boosters to 32 million people by Christmas but this is looking increasingly doubtful – only nine million have been given so far.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s health spokesperson, has written to Sajid Javid asking for more community pharmacies and walk-in clinics to give boosters and children’s jabs. He warned action was needed to tackle the pitifully low vaccination rate in youngsters – only one in four 12-15-year-olds have been jabbed, despite a target to vaccinate them all by October half term.
And the COVID industry just keeps on growing. I would love to know just how much this new industry is turning over per annum.
You can’t stop a virus, but with vaccines, it can be lower the rate that people catch it but it will never become extinct, and vaccines are used to help reduce it as much as possible, and we might end up with more than one type of vaccine to help fight the COVID virus, but it will never stop the virus completely. This means that some people will still get infected, although nowhere as many people as before.
So, how many vaccines will people need to have? Well, that’s like saying ‘How long is a piece of string?’ And it might just be that everyone will have to be jabbed several times a year or just once a year along with the flu jab.
But of course, some people won’t be able to have the jab because some people will end having severe reactions to the vaccine. So, do we refuse the vaccine, or have it done at our own risk?