The Guardian view on Johnson’s Covid plan: winter is coming, again | Editorial
Booster jabs and vaccines for older children are not a cure-all. The government should be taking other measures to keep us safe this year
As winter approaches, the good news is that we are in better shape than many people feared given the scrapping of almost all Covid restrictions over the summer. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warns that we are entering a period of uncertainty, but says that we are increasingly unlikely to reach January’s peak again. The bad news is that we are in worse shape than many people realise – and the government’s plan once more falls short.
A year ago, no one was vaccinated – now 80% of over-16s have had two jabs. But hospitalisations and deaths are many times higher than this time last year. On Tuesday, 26,628 new cases were reported and 185 deaths. The impact of the return of schools – which has produced a marked increase in infections in Scotland – and of universities will soon be felt. A Sage subgroup judges it “highly likely that a significant decrease in homeworking in the next few months would result in a rapid increase in hospital admissions”. As the weather worsens, people are more likely to mingle indoors. Winter viruses such as flu, norovirus and RSV are already surging; their impact may be worse this year because they were previously suppressed by lockdowns. Exhausted NHS staff are playing catch-up with the backlog created by the pandemic.