A new year message to all our staff
England’s Plan B COVID response has meant that over the festive period families and friends have been able to gather. We encourage common sense and following guidelines at all times but hope that all of our staff in Leicestershire and Rutland were able to relax and enjoy some time with their loved ones this Christmas.
It’s traditional at this time to look back at the events of the year and remind ourselves of the highs, lows and significant events. Our papers are full of ‘best of’ countdowns so we thought we’d review the year and focus on some of the success stories too.
We all had high hopes that 2021 would be the year that COVID became manageable, and it did initially. We scrambled to vaccinate the population, the economy recovered, and restrictions were lifted, but the Omicron variant came as a stark reminder that we’re not out of the woods yet.
However there is plenty to be optimistic about. The majority of hospitalisations (around 90%) are unvaccinated. That’s encouraging because we know the vaccine roll out is working.
A third jab can restore protection from COVID to around 75%. So focus has enivitably been on a comprehensive booster programme to offer a top-up to all eligible adults by the end of the year.
The NHS Covid vaccination programme has been (and continues to be) the biggest and most successful in health service history. And it did not stop over the festive period in England.
There were more than 12,000 reported vaccinations on Christmas Day, including more than 10,000 top-up doses, and 24,078 on Boxing Day, including 20,278 top-ups.
Taken with new figures from Christmas Eve, a total of 214,000 doses were reported including 184,445 boosters.
The busiest site in the country on Christmas Day was Redbridge Town Hall, where more than 900 people were jabbed.
As of 28 December, when figures were last updated, the UK has administered more than 132 million vaccinations. This is the second highest in Europe, with Germany ahead on 148 million. We have fully vaccinated 69.4% of our population. This is about average for the EU with Portugal recording the highest (89.4%) and Bulgaria the lowest (27.7%).
Looking forward to 2022
As we move into the new year COVID is very much still with us. The severity of the omicron variant is still uncertain and the lag in data reporting around the new year means that we are unlikely to have clarity for another few weeks.
However there is cause for optimism. The World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts that the coronavirus pandemic will end in 2022, as long as we can get ebough people vaccibated.
Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes the pandemic will end next year because “two years into the situation, we know the virus very well and we have all the tools [to fight it].”
He says that WHO projections show that vaccine supplies should be sufficient to vaccinate the entire global adult population and to give boosters to high-risk populations by the first quarter of 2022.
Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) works with collaborators around the world to develop timely, relevant, and scientifically valid data. Their latest data modelling concludes that:
- Infections will initially increase in the next 2-3 months. We will possibly see as many infections as we have in the entire pandemic thus far.
- Fewer infections are likely to be detected. As a larger fraction of cases will be asymptomatic (about 90% as opposed to 40% of previous variants), fewer people will seek out testing and thus will not have their infections recorded.
- Overall hospitalisations and deaths will be lower than previous surges. The infection-hospitalisation and infection-fatality rates of omicron are much lower than previosu variants.
- Omicron is different. It is more transmissible, but much more likely to be asymptomatic and much less likely to result in hospitalisation or death.
So as we move into 2022 we can be optimistic and feel assured that we’re making good progress. The vaccine rollout has been an enourmous success. Health and care workers have borne the lion’s share of these efforts but often received little recognition or reward. So, we’d like to extend our heart-felt thanks to all the staff across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, especially if you worked over the Christmas period.
You are all doing a fantastic job which is having a global impact, even if sometimes the feedback from patients is negative. Please keep up the excellent work in 2022 and we wish you a very Happy New Year.