Dr Nicola Brink expects adults to be offered another covid vaccine booster – which would be a fourth jab for most people – but not until the autumn.
At a public briefing held by the States last night, the island’s Medical Officer of Health said the next steps on the vaccination programme remained uncertain globally but another booster round towards the end of 2022 seems likely.
“I think there will be a further boosting round…but my interpretation of the situation is that I’d be surprised if we do it over the next six months. I think it’s going to be some sort of autumn boost,” said Dr Brink.
“I think the uncertainty we have is whether [the vaccine] is going to be monovalent or polyvalent.”
A monovalent vaccine would be against a single strain of covid whereas a polyvalent vaccine would incorporate defence against more than one strain.
“Looking far into the future, I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we could have some sort of pan-coronavirus vaccine. It’s a rapidly developing field,” said Dr Brink.
“Although I don’t have definitive information, I would put my money on an autumn boost with either a monovalent or polyvalent vaccine…I think that’s what we are looking at.”
Pictured: Dr Nicola Brink thinks it is unlikely that there will be another round of covid vaccines before the autumn of this year but expects islanders to be encouraged to have another booster jab around that time.
Dr Brink was speaking following an announcement by the Civil Contingencies Authority about the further relaxation of covid rules and regulations as the recent wave of cases of the omicron variant of the virus continued to abate. In recent days, the Authority has removed or liberalised rules covering face masks, workplaces, schools, isolation periods and incoming travel. It is publishing a ‘Bailiwick Blueprint’ today to set out the next steps towards living with covid-19 without the need for legal restrictions.
“Central to this has been our [vaccine] booster programme,” said Dr Brink. “Without our vaccination and booster programme, we would not be in the great situation we are in.
“Islanders have exceeded all expectations. They’ve come forward and they’ve got vaccinated to protect themselves but also to protect their community. We’re in a good position because islanders have worked hard to get us in that position.
“Covid has not gone away. Retention of the vaccination and booster programme is going to be of absolute paramount importance as we move forward. We really do need to make sure that we retain those high levels of vaccination and boosting.”
Pictured: Deputy Peter Ferbrache indicated that it may soon be possible for the States' vaccination centre to move out of Beau Sejour, which would allow sports and community groups to return to the Sir John Loveridge Hall. Dr Peter Rabey said that primary care practices were eager to take on more responsibility for the vaccine programme.
The Chairman of the Civil Contingencies Authority, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, said that statistics demonstrated the benefits of high levels of vaccination.
“Statistics sometimes tell a story and they do here,” he said.
“In the first wave, which began in March 2020, there were a total of 252 cases [of covid-19] and sadly 16 people died. Since 9 December 2021, there have been nearly 5,800 cases. Sadly, too many people have died, but the number is five.
“The reason for that overwhelmingly is because of vaccinations. You can say what you like. You can argue what you like. I’ve spent most of my professional life as a lawyer arguing that black is white. But you can’t argue anything other than having vaccinations and being sensible and acting prudently is for the benefit not only of yourself but of the community of the Bailiwick.”
The Medical Director of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Peter Rabey, provided an update on conditions at the PEH.
“We’ve got three patients in the Bailiwick who are in hospital with covid,” said Dr Rabey. Two of the patients have been diagnosed with covid-19 but are not receiving treatment for it. The third patient is a patient who has been in intensive care for some time who is still being treated for the virus.
“We’re getting on with some of the important backlog of work that we’ve got. We’ve been doing some routine elective surgery, for example, this week, which we’re really pleased to be getting stuck into."
Pictured: Dr Peter Rabey provided an update on recent conditions at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.
“We’ve been through a really busy time in the last few weeks. It’s not been due to covid overwhelming us. It’s been due to having basically a ward full of patients who are waiting for social care placements. That’s hurting our ability to deliver elective work. And we’ve had a really busy time with patients in intensive care.
"We get this in winter – nothing to do with covid, but our intensive care has been busy. And running an intensive care full and overflowing and running a covid intensive care puts huge pressures on our staff and we’re grateful to them for rising to that challenge.
“At the moment, we’re coming out of the end of what have been a really tough few weeks. In the last week and a half, we’ve been delighted to get back to more or less normal operations.
“We’ve had 40 patients in the hospital with covid since 1 November 2021. Average length of stay has been about eight days. Average age of our patients has been about 65. Of those 40 patients, 18 patients have been treated because of covid [and] others have been in with other things but tested positive while they’ve been in.”
Deputy Ferbrache said that when he hears Dr Brink and Dr Rabey speak he feels “calm because they give assurance, professionalism, they’re never flustered and they give calm and good advice to those of us who have to make the decisions and so I thank them again”.
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