Daily symptomatic Covid cases have doubled in just over a month, with around 200,000 recorded each day. Cases rose from 101,600 on August 27 to 202,738 on Friday, September 30, according to the ZOE Health study. So should boosters be made mandatory? Vote in our poll.
Figures are predicted to rise further in October, as the R-value – the average rate of infection – is already at 1.1.
Co-founder of the Covid ZOE app, Professor Tim Spector, told The Independent that the UK is already experiencing the next wave of coronavirus.
He warned that the new wave is more likely to affect older people and that if the Omicron variant becomes immune-evasive, there could be “real problems” in the winter.
Mr Spector said: “It is clear that we are now seeing an autumn wave of COVID-19…
“And with rates on the rise, particularly in the vulnerable older age groups, the impact on hospitalizations could be higher.”
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He noted that people should be prepared for “a combination of viruses”, and encouraged the British to have a booster vaccine.
He said: “With the increase in colds and rhinovirus [the most common cause of colds]like COVID-19, and the possibility of a major seasonal flu epidemic, it is especially important to keep vulnerable people well protected.
“I advise everyone who is eligible to get the latest fall COVID-19 booster, such as the flu shot to provide protection against serious illness and hospitalization, and to avoid poorly ventilated areas without FFP mask protection.
“Additionally, maintaining a high-quality diet is important to maintain protection against Covid and influenza, especially in the elderly.”
University of Warwick virologist Professor Lawrence Young, also warned that the UK is “blind” to the behavior of new potential variants due to low testing.
He said: “We’ve really taken our eye off the ball with Covid tests. People will get different infections over the winter but won’t know what they are because free tests aren’t available – it’s going to be a problem become.”
The Covid booster jab is currently being rolled out to some groups, including people over 50, and those with underlying health conditions.
Vaccinations are provided by GP surgeries and community pharmacies, as well as by health insurance companies and schools.
More than 4.6 million autumn Covid boosters have been administered so far, according to latest data released on October 3 dating back to September 5.
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NHS director of vaccinations and screening, Steve Russell, said: “The NHS is leaving no stone unturned in its mission to stop the potential ‘twindemic’ this winter, with 4.6 million autumn booster jabs already delivered and the national flu campaign well into the went to combat lower than usual levels of flu immunity due to quieter flu seasons over the pandemic.
“The vaccine is still our best protection against this difficult virus and with the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 increasing again, I urge everyone who is eligible for the autumn booster to get their last dose without delay to book through the NHS website or by calling 119, and help protect yourself and your loved ones this winter.
So what do you think? Should boosters be required this winter as Covid cases rise? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.