Purpose and clarity underpin the government’s winter Covid strategy

Editorial: Two sensible plans announced by the health secretary should help keep the pressure off the NHS in what may prove to be an even more difficult winter than last year

Wednesday 15 September 2021 09:29
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A good day, for a change, for the government’s response to the pandemic, as we look forward, if that’s the right expression, to the autumn and winter. With the notable exception of the vaccine rollout, rarely has the official response been characterised by a sober consistency of purpose and clarity in communication. Panic interspersed with senseless boosterism has been been the usual approach. It has helped the UK to one of the worst death rates in the advanced world.

To give all those concerned due credit, the last 48 hours have been a lesson in public health policy and messaging. The announcement of a proportionate and voluntary vaccination schedule for 12- to 15-year-olds has been followed up with a rapid rollout of booster jabs for the over-50s.

As ever, the deputy chief medical officer for England, Jonathan Van-Tam, gave a master class in colourful analogies and effective communication. Plainly, “plan A” for the immediate future, when conditions will be much more favourable to a resurgence of Covid cases, depends on pushing vaccination rates even higher, both among the young and geographically. The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth was right to push ministers hard on the relatively low take-up of the existing jabs in Lancashire and parts of the Midlands.

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