The coronavirus vaccine to be rolled out in the UK next week will not eliminate the risk of increased patient intake for the NHS, experts have warned.
The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers have written to health workers warning that the deployment of vaccines will have only a “marginal impact” in reducing the number entering the NHS with Covid over the next three months.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty; from Scotland, Dr. Gregor Smith; from Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton; and from Northern Ireland, Dr. Michael McBride, all signed the letter.
The four said celebratory gatherings would likely put additional pressure on health care in a letter to colleagues, PA reports.
The letter read, “Winter is always a challenging time for the NHS and wider health and social care.
“This year will be especially difficult because of Covid-19.
“While the very welcome news about vaccines means that we can look forward to 2021 with more optimism, the use of vaccines will have only a marginal impact over the next three months in reducing the number of people entering healthcare with Covid.
“The actions and self-discipline of the entire population during lockdowns and other restrictions have helped reduce the spike, and in most parts of the four countries, the number of hospitals is likely to decline in the coming weeks, but not everywhere.
“The social blending that takes place around Christmas may put extra pressure on hospitals and GPs in the new year, and we need to be prepared for that.”
The letter praised health professionals for responding “wonderfully” to the challenges of the pandemic and stressed the importance of continued support for others in the profession.
But it added that it was “essential” that the following months be used to learn more about the virus to help inform treatments.
“We do not expect Covid to disappear even after full vaccination has taken place, although it will be significantly less important as a cause of mortality and morbidity,” he said.
“It is therefore absolutely essential that we use the coming months to learn as much as possible as we expect Covid to be less common in the future.
“This gives us the best chance of having a strong science base to manage it for years to come.”