Home Health & Wellness New Minister Must Reintroduce Face Masks Now, Says Expert

New Minister Must Reintroduce Face Masks Now, Says Expert

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The leading Covid testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman, PhD, chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratorysaid: ‘The revolving door that has seen four health secretaries in five years must stop. Britain is facing vital decisions about ending the Covid pandemic, and the continual chop-and-change at the top of the Department of Health and Social Care is a dangerous distraction.’

‘The turmoil of politics must be put aside as the new Health Secretary faces some urgent decisions. The latest Omicron variants are rapidly running away with us. The new man in the hot seat, Steve Barclay, must quickly reintroduce the compulsory wearing of face masks on public transport and in shops. He must also provide free Covid tests to those at high risk or in regular contact with people with compromised immune systems.’

‘He also needs to build on the legacy of his many predecessors and ensure Britain remains at the forefront of immunisations by purchasing top-up vaccinations specifically targeted against Omicron variants as soon as they become available.’

‘In the past five years, the nation’s health policies have been in the hands of Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, and now Steve Barclay. No matter what your political persuasion, this continual change at the top of such a vital department is undoubtedly hindering the long-term battle against the impact of Covid.’

‘Steve Barclay needs to get on top of his new brief quickly. Before Brits start to get together in large numbers to enjoy their summer holidays, the decision must be taken to reintroduce compulsory mask-wearing in indoor public places such as stores and on public transport. Omicron BA.5 is growing 35.1% faster than even Omicron BA.2 The new man at the top hasn’t got the luxury of getting to know his job before he acts.’

‘Although Omicron symptoms appear to be no more severe than earlier variants, we see a rise in hospital admissions in line with fast-spreading community infections. If the brakes aren’t applied now, that may put severe pressure on our health system by August.’

‘The lack of access to free tests could also hinder our understanding of how many cases of Covid are circulating in the population. In addition, many people may not be aware that they have contracted Covid or be unwilling to pay for confirmatory tests. This could spread it unknowingly put many at risk of hospitalisation or long Covid.’

‘There are other tough choices to be made. Yes, the UK has a stockpile of existing Covid vaccinations, but the rapid evolution of the virus means these have become less effective. This month, the European Medicines Agency advised Covid vaccines tweaked to include the Omicron variant strain will significantly improve protection when used as a booster.’

‘Pfizer and Moderna have tested retooled versions of their vaccines to include the Omicron variant. Pfizer reports that a booster dose of its Omicron-adapted vaccines elicited a substantially higher immune response against Omicron BA.1 than the company’s current COVID-19 vaccine.’

‘The new Health Secretary’s priority must be to purchase vaccines able to combat the latest Omicron variants as soon as they become available and to introduce a new booster programme for the entire population of the UK, particularly for people over 50.’

The outgoing secretary, Sajid Javid, said in his resignation speech: ‘Home office and treasury decisions were important, but nothing matters more than the people’s health. Caring for people is a noble undertaking.’

He added: ‘There was so much long-term reform he planned for health that it was a wrench to leave the job behind. Hopefully, his successor will remain in place for long enough to take hold of the department and put the urgent measures needed for long-term reform, including an enduring and durable Covid strategy that includes access to testing.’

‘The latest ONS research shows that Covid antibody levels, though still relatively high across the UK, have been consistently falling since mid-April. Suppose anyone is concerned about their immune response to the jabs and how well they continue to produce antibodies.’

‘In that case, the new generation blood tests available from London Medical Laboratory are highly accurate, quick and straightforward to carry out, either at home through the post or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test across London and the southeast. Next-day and same-day PCR and rapid antigen lateral flow tests (LFTs) are available via post or in-store.’ 

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