The Prime Minister has today set out the government’s autumn and winter plan for managing Covid at a press conference.

The government’s autumn and winter plan sets out a renewed focus on vaccines as the first line of defence, supported by testing, public health advice, and a world-leading variant surveillance system. All evidence and data has been consistently kept under review, with today’s plan representing the latest advice for controlling the virus.

In England, the number of deaths and hospitalisations has remained relatively stable over the last month, with Worcester below the national average. Evidence also suggests that vaccines are highly effective, with PHE analysis suggesting that two doses led to the prevention of 24,702,000 infections and 112,300 deaths, up to August 27th.

The government has now received the final advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the booster programme. The Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary has set out how the programme will be rolled out to the most vulnerable. To maintain the high level of protection throughout the winter, the government will adopt the JCVI advice that booster vaccines should be offered to those more at risk from serious disease, and who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme

The booster programme is separate to the third primary dose programme for those who are immunocompromised.

In the government’s plan the Test, Trace and Isolate programme will continue its important work, with symptomatic PCR testing continuing throughout the autumn and winter. Lateral flow tests will also remain free of charge but at a later stage, as our response to the virus changes, this will end and individuals and businesses will be expected to bear the cost. The legal obligation to self-isolate for those who have tested positive and their unvaccinated contacts will continue, and the financial support payment for those self-isolating on certain benefits will continue in its current format until the end of March.

Our NHS will continue to get the support it needs, with an extra £5.4 billion recently announced for the next 6 months alone for the Covid response.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said:

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that the government is preparing to balance the needs of jobs and the economy with the health of citizens across England. By implementing plans for booster jabs for over 50s and offering vaccinations to under 15s it is clear that the whole plan is being driven by data and scientific advice. This is the right approach and it must continue.

“Case rates in Worcester continue to fall, which is of course a welcome indication we are heading in the right direction and is below the Worcestershire average. With 68,000 Worcester residents fully vaccinated with both doses there is clear evidence that getting that protection is the most effective way of stopping the spread of Covid.”

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said:

“The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our phenomenal vaccine programme, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms.

“Today I will set out a clear plan for the autumn and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the gains we have made.”