Coronavirus infection rates and the vaccination programme

Two weeks into the third lockdown, and we’re seeing a reduction in infection rates, as we would expect, some 20-25% inside a week. There’s a clear North-South split in rates, most probably caused by the spread of the more infectious variants from the Birmingham conurbation into South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase and East Staffordshire. Prison outbreaks continue to be a concern. Although there was discussion nationally about greater measures earlier in the week, we believe locally that the key is compliance with the current rules, rather than new, more severe measures.

The more encouraging news is the progress of the vaccination programme.  In addition to the national media covered Lichfield Cathedral centre opening up, the County Council is working with the NHS and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to accelerate the programme. We have submitted a plan to move even faster, and will be presenting it to the national programme director this week. It’s a robust, resilient and deliverable plan to increase the capacity of the programme locally. The quid pro quo from the national programme would be to ‘open up the taps’ as the vaccine supply improves in the coming weeks, and giving us the freedom to operate. 

Although detailed local statistics are hard to pin down in this rapidly moving operation, it’s clear that Staffordshire is already well ahead of the national and regional averages, and of course the UK is well ahead of other countries. Huge efforts are being made to ensure that the four vulnerable cohorts identified as priorities are vaccinated as quickly as possible. This is key when one considers that 88% of Covid deaths are in these four cohorts, and I was told this week by a senior NHS colleague that it’s estimated that one life is saved for every 20 care home residents vaccinated. Although there’s clearly no 100% certainty on the effectiveness of any vaccine, and the immunity takes up to three weeks to build up, one can understand the reasoning that lies behind the pace at which this operation is running, particularly when this week carried the sad news that, on some days, 1,500 deaths were being reported nationally.    

Comments are closed.