With, alas, two record breaking days in a row of Covid infections I am more convinced than ever that we are right to push the boosters as fast as possible and that the proportionate steps to help reduce Covid transmission earlier this week are justified.
We simply don’t yet know for certain whether Omicron will prove much milder than the existing strains in circulation but we do know – it is very stark – that it is spreading enormously swiftly. The risk is that any Covid strain that spreads this fast risks a significant increase in hospitalisations even if less lethal.
The good news (and there is some) is that a huge proportion of the population is double-jabbed which gives some protection and we know that this combined with a booster is very effective against Omicron. Compared to the start of the pandemic we also have lateral flow tests widely available – not only to allow those who wish to, to test before entering crowded venues but to provide some reassurance to people trying to shield those whom they love by testing to reduce the risk of passing on asymptomatic infection.
The other reason to be cheerful is that the huge community effort we saw at the start of the pandemic continues. Having visited the Roffey vaccination centre last week, this week I also really enjoyed joining the volunteers at Christ’s Hospital. It seems far longer than a year since Dr Matt Greenwood and I were discussing his plans to establish the centre; under his and the medical team’s driven and dedicated guidance it has been an amazing success. Dozens of volunteers assist daily to help the centre deliver vaccinations running well into four figures. Come sun, cold or rain the volunteers have been out for 12 months and more are signing up to help over the Christmas period.
The gratitude of those of all ages who know that everyone at our centres may literally be helping to save their lives is genuine.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ. Those attending Carol Services, which for me is such an important part of Christmas, will hear “of the light that shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”. We have had a year which has often been grim but what has kept so many peoples’ spirits up is the knowledge that so many, volunteers and professionals, are working to keep us safe in so many different ways. May I wish all of our volunteers in the community, our emergency services and public servants and all the readers of the County Times, a very Happy Christmas.