The threat of Covid-19 may have greatly receded for most people in what is now a heavily-vaccinated population, but the danger has not gone away entirely, not least for the immunocompromised.
At present, cases are still falling according to the latest official data, with the latest figures for England showing that in the seven days to August 19th positive tests had dropped again by 25.1 per cent. In the seven days to August 22nd the number of patient admissions to hospital fell by 20.1 per cent.
While these numbers have been falling persistently over recent weeks, we have been in this position before. The virus has never gone away and a new wave has always emerged, usually as a result of another variant emerging. The return of schools in September may also lead to an increase.
That is why it still makes sense for vulnerable people to use fingertip covers when encountering shared touch screens or keypads at cash points, ticket machines and other devices used by many. Covid may soon be back with a vengeance.
Earlier this month the government announced a new booster programme using a ‘bivalent’ vaccine, the first of its kind, which is designed to act both against the original Covid strain and the Omicron versions. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said this will be given to those over 50, in healthcare settings, who are immunocompromised or live with someone who is.
This action may turn out to be highly effective against any new Omicron wave, but it is impossible to be sure that another variant won’t emerge. After all, Omicron itself came suddenly after months without any new variant.
In addition, because the new bivalent booster is only being given to some people, a likely autumn wave, which many experts anticipate in the UK as well as in other European countries like France and Germany, will mean there is still plenty to be wary of in the months ahead.