UK

300,000 housebound people have not had Covid booster jab

More than 300,000 housebound people have yet to receive their Covid booster jab as GPs opted out of delivering doses at home. 

According to unpublished Whitehall data, seen by The Daily Telegraph, only 170,000 housebound people had been given top-up jabs at the end of last week.

This is around 36 per cent of an estimated total number of 470,000 but some estimates have placed the total number of housebound in England at closer to a million.

The Government announced plans to offer family doctors £30 per house visit as an incentive to encourage them to offer boosters to some of those most at risk from the virus as concern grows about the slow booster rollout.

Health minister Sajid Javid also announced GPs would be free from making some routine health checks to allow them time to help with the booster rollout.

But it is understood many of those who helped administer first and second vaccine jabs have opted out of home visits to deliver boosters, citing the lack of time and staff.

More than 300,000 housebound people have yet to receive their Covid booster jab as GPs opted out of delivering doses at home, data seen by the Daily Telegraph has revealed

In areas including Kent, London and Cambridgeshire responsibility for visiting housebound people has been given to local NHS clinical commissioning groups or pharmacy firms.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: ‘The general clunkiness which has affected the booster rollout seems to have resulted in some housebound older people still waiting for a nurse to provide them with their booster jab.

‘This would have been worrying in any situation, but is all the more so now because of the potential threat from the new omicron variant.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘Local NHS and GP teams are contacting their eligible housebound patients, and we are working closely with St John’s Ambulance to give local areas additional support.

‘We are also providing additional funding to help local teams secure additional staff so that all eligible housebound patients are offered a booster as quickly as possible.’ 

In guidance issued this week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said it was ‘clear that those at greatest risk must be prioritised, including those who are housebound’.

It comes after the number of Omicron cases in the UK rocketed by more than 50 per cent yesterday while standard cases of Covid increased by 16 per cent.

As of yesterday, there has been a total of 86 recorded cases of the Omicron variant in the UK, with 68 in England and 18 in Scotland, according to the UK Health Security Agency, who publish the figures.

Meanwhile, a further 43,992 Covid cases were recorded in the UK this week, an increase of 6,311 on last week’s figures.

The increase marks a 16.7 per cent rise since last Sunday while a further 54 deaths were recorded.

The number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid rose by 5.8 per cent from 51 last week.

The number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid also rose by 5.8 per cent from 51 last week.

Data shows the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise. Like Alpha, or the 'Kent variant', Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing

Data shows the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise. Like Alpha, or the ‘Kent variant’, Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing

‘It doesn’t look there’s a great degree of severity’: Dr Fauci says Omicron may be LESS dangerous than Delta

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci says early indications from South Africa suggest that the Omicron variant may not be as severe as previously feared. 

‘Thus far – though it’s too early to really make any definitive statements about it – it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it, but we’ve really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn’t cause any severe illness comparable to delta,’ he said. 

‘But thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity. But again we’ve got to hold judgement  until we get more experienced.’

President Joe Biden locked eight South African countries out of the US last Monday in fear of the new super mutant COVID variant, and the ban remains in place despite travel remaining open to other foreign countries.

But Fauci said Sunday that the restrictions were made during a time when an explosion of Omicron cases were rocking South Africa as the severity of the variant remained unknown.

He said US officials are now reevaluating the restrictions. 

‘When the ban was put on, it was put to give us time to figure out just what is going on,’ Fauci told CNN’s Jack Tapper.  

Meanwhile, laws requiring masks in shops and on public transport are set to stay until the New Year, as ministers try to fend off demands for tougher restrictions in the run up to Christmas.

Emergency regulations last week reintroduced mandatory masks until December 21 to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

A final decision on whether to extend their use may not be taken until as late as December 18.

But Whitehall sources said it was likely masks would stay mandatory for at least another three weeks to give scientists more time to assess the threat posed by Omicron.

Other restrictions, such as travel tests and compulsory ten-day quarantine for those in close contact with an Omicron case, are also set to be extended.

However, sources said Boris Johnson is resisting pressure to move to the Government’s Plan B until at least the New Year.

It comes as a leading scientist warned Britain has left it ‘too late’ to halt the spread of the Omicron super-variant.

Professor Mark Woolhouse said bringing in new curbs on travel was ‘a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’.

The Edinburgh University epidemiologist said it was ‘spreading pretty rapidly’ and could become the world’s dominant strain.

On Saturday, it was announced all travellers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test from Tuesday.

Ministers said the test was intended to be a temporary measure following new data showing an increase in the number of cases of the new strain linked to foreign travel.

Meanwhile Nigeria is being added to the Government’s travel red list in a blow for those wanting to see family over the festive period.


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