RSM COVID-19 Series: Discussion Webinar
3rd June 2021
Derek Maylor, NW BT Unions H&S Co-ord member and Health & Safety Officer (Telecom section) of the CWU's Grter Mersey Amal Branch; reports on a Royal Society Of Medicine webinar, looking at the vaccinatioin roll-out as it currently stands:
Professor Sir Simon Wessely chaired the panel consisting of Prof. Peter Openshaw, Imperial College London, Prof. Susan Michie UCL, member of SAGE & Independent SAGE, and Prof. Robin Shattock Imperial College London.
Mandatory vaccinations for health care workers – concerns are not addressed by forcing the issue and sets a poor example, hesitancy is going down anyway so we should keep offering and supportive workplace policies are better, where mandating has been tried it weakens the trust in authority, it would be discriminatory and it doesn't address the concerns. Open dialogue that addresses the concerns and share information about safety accuracy etc. from trusted credible sources.
It is difficult actually to know where variants come from, the diversity of humanity and the diversity of treatments that people are receiving may be a contribution. The Kent variant or English variant as Nicola Sturgeon always calls it, has now been renamed Alpha, which know that will please Boris Johnson as a student to Greek Alpha will always be at the top, and the Indian variant is now to be called Delta. The UK is not the essential trading post for viruses, they can go by other routes and we know Alpha is in the US and spreading rapidly in Canada. There is additional linkage with all the variants, and says there have been some reports, starting to come out of other parts of Asia, where some of these mutations are being shared. We might get Delta 2 at some point, it's still going to be a moving target for a long time but there is concern about having enough people having vaccines in the areas particularly where we're seeing high levels of the Delta variant.
On age we are coming to learn that as the lower ages are offered vaccinations the percentage uptake is lower, but the next week or two will provide the data to give the confidence that this is not going to run away like it did when we had the Alpha variant just prior to Christmas.
There are other things to learn from the past, within the UK and from what's happening the other countries when they have managed to contain another wave. We didn't act early and decisively enough and ended up in the second wave, now particular concern about another wave in the under 30s and we should be worried about the high transmission, the more mutations and therefore the higher the likelihood of the variant that could undermine our vaccination programme.
The main issue is for people to be behaving in a way that minimizes transmission so adjust keep the transmission rates down and obviously over the last few months it's become more and more evident, that aerosol transmission is a really important primary transmission rate, therefore the case for doing as much outdoors as possible is incredibly strong. If you are indoors and seeing people from other households, make sure windows and doors are open. If you're going to share public spaces whatever they might be bars, restaurants or whatever choose wisely and go to ones that you can see a well ventilated.
There is a paper coming out from SAGE about moving from a strict rules based on more of a risk assessment and risk management approach because it's clear that people are going to have to manage this in one shape or form for the foreseeable future. This will be in terms of their own behaviour and their own condition vulnerability as well as those of other people nearby, also the settings they're in. Quite complex, but actually, if one can give a few principles to people such as focusing on getting the 18+ vaccinated or any side effects against some of these vaccines bearing in mind the risk to the benefit.
There are studies now appearing of vaccination in in younger children, showing that the vaccination profile is the side effect profile is not that different than maybe they sometimes have rather milder adverse effects but it's absolutely got to be a risk benefit analysis and we also have to be aware that if we are giving vaccines to people within our population who may not actually personally gain much from being vaccinated and we're still not really sure whether that's going to interrupt transmission to a large extent. It was unethical not to be also sharing surplus vaccines with the rest of the world and we have commenced this by the Codex system, and this will address the surplus purchasing we did during early stages of vaccine production.