Here Comes the New Scare: Flu Deaths Could Hit 50-Year High “Experts Say”
Media, pharmaceutical, and lockdown complexes getting ready to double-dip
Flu deaths could be the worst for 50 years because of lockdowns and social distancing, health chiefs have warned, as the NHS launches the biggest ever flu vaccination drive.
More than 35 million people will be offered flu jabs this winter, amid concern that prolonged restrictions on social contact have left Britain with little immunity.
Officials fear that this winter could see up to 60,000 flu deaths – the worst figure in Britain since the 1968 Hong Kong Flu pandemic – without strong uptake of vaccines.
There is also concern about the effectiveness of this year’s jabs, because the lack of flu last year made it harder for scientists to sample the virus and predict the dominant strains.
Health chiefs said the measures introduced over the past 18 months to protect the country against coronavirus would now put the public at greater risk of flu.
The NHS has already begun the rollout of flu jabs and Covid-19 boosters. Health chiefs will urge everyone eligible to take up their chance, with the launch of a major campaign on Friday to drive take-up. [And the scaremongering about “60,000 flu deaths wouldn’t be an integral of this “campaign”?]
Rise in deaths predicted
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said: “Not many people got flu last year because of Covid-19 restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity in our communities as usual.
“We will see flu circulating this winter; it might be higher than usual and that makes it a significant public health concern.”
Officials highlighted modelling from the Academy of Medical Sciences, which suggests this winter the UK could see between 15,000 and 60,000 flu deaths.
This compares with an average of 11,000 deaths a year in the five years before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The modelling warns that this winter could be far worse than normal for flu, precisely because of the physical distancing measures implemented over the last 18 months. [You mean the same measures that did not affect a different respiratory virus in any way whatsover?]
It comes amid concern that the combination of Covid-19 and flu could cripple health services, increasing the risk of another lockdown, or “Plan B” measures, such as compulsory masks, vaccine passports or a return to working from home. [Great. Get ready for annual flu vax passports and/or lockdowns.]
As a result, the NHS is about to embark on the biggest rollout of flu jabs in its history.
Everyone over the age of 50 and below the age of 16 will be offered vaccines, along with pregnant women, health and care workers, and millions with underlying health conditions.
Public ‘underestimate the threat’
At the same time booster Covid-19 jabs will be offered to around 30 million people, including all over 50s.
Health officials expressed concern that the public underestimate the combined threats of the two viruses. Those infected with both have twice the death risk of those who only contract Covid-19, research suggests.
Polling of 3,000 adults commissioned by the Cabinet Office found one third were unaware that coronavirus and flu could circulate at the same time.
The survey also suggests widespread fears that this Christmas could be ruined by lockdowns or social restrictions.
Officials said: “After restrictions put in place to protect the public from Covid-19 last Christmas, the main incentives people listed in the new survey included the desire to be with family at Christmas this year.”
Two in five adults cited this as a reason to have a Covid-19 booster, while a quarter said it was a factor behind getting a flu jab.
Prof Van-Tam said: “Covid-19 will still be circulating and with more people mixing indoors, sadly some increases are possible.
“For the first time we will have Covid-19 and flu co-circulating. We need to take this seriously and defend ourselves and the NHS by getting the annual flu jab and the Covid-19 booster when called.
“Both these viruses are serious: they can both spread easily, cause hospitalisation and they can both be fatal. It is really important that people get their vaccines as soon as they can.”
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said: “This year we are rolling out the largest flu vaccine programme in our history, alongside the new Covid-19 booster vaccine rollout; both are important to provide vital protection not only to yourself, but also your loved ones while also helping to ease pressure on the NHS.”
Earlier this week, Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) from Imperial College London, said the UK did not have much “headroom” for rising Covid-19 cases before the NHS becomes “heavily stressed”.
A new film campaign will today urge those eligible for the flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster jab to book their appointments as soon as possible.
Those not eligible for a free flu jab can make an appointment for a paid-for dose at pharmacies, while a number of employers offer free vaccines.
Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “We are facing a challenging winter but we can all help ourselves and those around us by taking up the Covid-19 booster and flu vaccine, if eligible.
“Getting vaccinated against both viruses will not only help to protect us and our loved ones, but will also help protect the NHS from potential strain this winter.”
The survey findings suggested vaccine confidence levels were still high, with more than eight in 10 of the double jabbed saying they would get the Covid-19 booster vaccine if offered, and two in three of adults saying they would get the flu jab if they could.
Those eligible for flu jabs can book their free NHS flu vaccine via pharmacies or they can wait for their GP surgery to contact them.
Those eligible for a coronavirus booster jab are being told to wait until they are contacted, although health and social care workers can book one online via the NHS website.
Source: The Telegraph