‘Covid here to stay’ warns Wales’ Chief Medical Officer
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer has suggested that Covid may never go away and that vaccinations may become part of a “new normal” and assessed on a “seasonal basis”
Speaking to the Press Association Dr Frank Atherton speculated that Wales would need to respond rapidly to new variants of Covid as they arise and may need an annual vaccination programme similar to the seasonal flu jab.
He said: “We just need to get through this wave of infection and see what the future brings, but I am confident we can come to terms with this virus, that it’s never going to completely go away, but that we can come to live with the virus.”
Dr Atherton also considers that there would be “great strength” in a collective approach to tackling new variants, pointing to the differences in restrictions across the UK.
He said: “I’ve always felt throughout this pandemic that there is great strength when we have collective decisions and we have common process.
“Obviously the ways of transmission have occurred at different times, in different countries, and different countries have made their own responses.
“Some variation is inevitable, but where we can have common solutions that is a strength of the system as well.”
While England has comparably relaxed levels of restrictions, in Wales the ‘rule of six’ applies to people meeting in pubs, cinemas and restaurants, with table service a requirement in licenced premises, and a maximum of 30 people attending indoor events and up to 50 for outdoor events.
He believes that the cautious approach in Wales is broadly welcomed by the public who have indicated in surveys that they feel Welsh Government efforts to keep them safe have been “reasonable”.
Dr Atherton says he is honoured to have been given a knighthood for services to public health, but said the past two years have been “really difficult”.