Friday Five

Prime Minister announces Covid ‘Plan B’, life expectancy drops and call for investigation of changes to menstruation following vaccination – this week’s Friday Five

Prime Minister announces Covid ‘Plan B’

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced his plans for tackling Covid during autumn and winter in England.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he outlined ‘Plan A’, designed to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, and promote vaccines and testing but also set out ‘Plan B’, a series of extra measures which would be introduced should the NHS face “unsustainable pressure”.

Under Plan B, the public would be urged to act more cautiously, mandatory vaccine passports could be used for mass events and other settings and face coverings could be legally mandated in some places alongside potential guidance on working from home.

Mr Johnson said, “Because so many of the population have some degree of immunity, smaller changes in the way we’re asking people to behave can have a bigger impact.” He added that this would “give us the confidence that we don’t have to go back to the lockdowns of the past”.

Read the full story in the BBC.

NHS aims to deliver over 1m daily Covid and flu jabs amid growing fears of winter crisis

In a drive to save lives and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed this winter, the NHS is preparing to start delivering more than 1m Covid and flu jabs a day across the UK. 

NHS chiefs expect the record 844,285 vaccines delivered on 20 March to be exceeded within days as a result of GPs and other vaccinators administering Covid booster jabs to adults, children aged 12-15 and the roll-out of winter flu shots.

An NHS source said “The peak number of vaccines of both sorts per day delivered this time round will be over 1m, on at least some days. Whereas vaccination teams were only doing Covid jabs in the spring, from next week they’ll be doing them alongside 36m flu jabs” 

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Life expectancy in England falls to the lowest level in a decade

A Public Health England report has said that an increase in deaths between March 2020 and July 2021 have resulted in a life expectancy decrease of 1.3 years in males, to 78.77, and a 0.9 year decrease in females, to 82.7 years – the lowest life expectancy since 2011.

Life expectancy inequality is also widening between people in the most and least deprived areas. The gap in male life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas in England is 10.3 years in 2020, which is a year higher than the 2019 level.

The PHE report stated “This demonstrates that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in life expectancy by deprivation. Covid-19 was the cause of death that contributed most to the gap in 2020, however, higher mortality from heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases in deprived areas remained important contributors.”

Read the full story in The Independent.

Call for investigation of changes to menstruation following vaccination

Dr Victoria Male, a leading immunologist specialising in fertility has called for an investigation into changes to periods and unexpected vaginal bleeding after having a Covid vaccine in order to reassure women.

Whilst there is no evidence to suggest that Covid vaccinations have any impact on pregnancy or fertility, the UK’s regulator has received more than 30,000 reports of period problems. These problems include heavier than usual periods, delayed periods and unexpected bleeding after all three Covid vaccines.

Writing in an opinion piece in the BMJ, Dr Male says “Vaccine hesitancy among young women is largely driven by false claims that Covid-19 vaccines could harm their chances of future pregnancy. Failing to thoroughly investigate reports of menstrual changes after vaccination is likely to fuel these fears.”

Read the full story in the BBC.


Quote of the week

As the deadline hits for all care home workers to have had their first Covid vaccine, Ben Mattinson, who runs the Wyncourt care home in Timperley, Altrincham, said that despite the rules, some of his staff won’t get the jab and speaks about the difficulties of sacking them.

“We run a nursing home, we’ve got 70 members of staff altogether and we’ve got six now that have refused the vaccination so that means we’re going to lose just under 10 per cent of our workforce. The morale is at an all-time low, they still hope and believe that it’s going to get overturned but I’m not physically going to hand them a notice today, they know, I can’t bring myself to do it. They’ve given me between the six of them 40 years of loyal hard work and dedication so I can’t physically give them a piece of paper saying that we no longer are going to employ them.”

Find out more from the Manchester Evening News.