Why have we decided to take Borrowed Time online?
Numerous government agencies and independent health bodies are already talk about the uncertainties of the Covid situation in the autumn. All consider it likely that the situation will be worse than it is now – some that it is likely to be much worse.
Most well-known to those based in the UK is SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), a standing committee of scientists and health professionals. In their meeting at the end of July SAGE said this:
Early autumn may be a particularly risky time, if a return to prepandemic behaviours coincides with schools and universities reopening.
Data suggest that those who have been vaccinated who become infected with the delta variant may still have a high viral load (medium confidence).
The biggest longer-term threat to the UK’s health security and response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is the emergence (and establishment within the UK) of variants that either have increased transmissibility, increased severity, escape prior immunity or a combination of these characteristics (high confidence). At this point in the epidemic, with a high degree of population immunity, an immune escape variant would be of particular concern (high confidence). Increased international vaccination has the potential to reduce the risk to the UK (medium confidence).
taken from the SAGE 94 minutes: Coronavirus (COVID-19) response, 22 July 2021.
Independently, Prof. John Edmunds of the SAGE group, interviewed on ITV News on August 7 added:
Infections are expected to rise again in September, when school and university terms begin and more workers are expected to return to the office…If we go back completely to normal, that will certainly fuel an autumn wave.
The SAGE minutes also cite a recent report from the Academy of Medical Sciences which says:
A lethal triple mix of COVID-19, influenza, and the respiratory virus Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), could push an already depleted NHS to breaking point this winter …
New modelling carried out for the report suggests this winter influenza and RSV hospital admissions and deaths could be two times that of a ‘normal’ year and could coincide with an increase of COVID-19 infections, and their associated long-term consequences…
Our modelling of a reasonable worst-case scenario also shows we could be dealing with around twice the levels of influenza and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) this autumn and winter, causing widespread ill health and even greater pressures on the NHS.
A member of this group, Lynn Laidlaw (Co-chair of the Patient and Carer Reference Group) independently said:
It is very hard to hear that the pandemic is not over and there is a difficult winter ahead of us, especially as restrictions are easing.
There have been many news stories about the likelihood of fresh Covid difficulties coming back in the Autumn, including this story in The Telegraph
In an article titled ‘Third Covid Wave Could Stretch to Autumn’, Global Health Security Editor said, on July 10:
The third and – hopefully – final wave of Covid-19 infections sweeping through the country could be a prolonged affair that stretches into the autumn.
All in all, the body of evidence and opinion that the UK is likely to see a resurgence of problems related to the Covid-19 pandemic are widespread and diverse in provenance. We don’t consider these articles to be scare-mongering and we need to consider not just the state of Covid but other pressures brought to bear on our National Health Service indirectly as a result of the pandemic, such as a particularly challenging flu season.