UK 'faces rough winter' as seasonal viruses will appear alongside Covid

Analysis from Public Health England has revealed that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing Covid-19 infections amongst patients aged 70 and up (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

A leading expert has said the UK faces a “rough winter” with other seasonal viruses set to appear this winter, along with the threat of covid still being prominent.

Calum Semple a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, told BBC Breakfast “it’s not just going to be coronavirus that’s causing us trouble”, and suggested face masks may need to be brought back in some regions.

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“The other seasonal viruses are going to come back,” he said.

“Hand hygiene and social distancing reduced influenza, it got rid of influenza, and many of the other viruses.

“Now that we’re opening up society, we’ve got to… live with not just Covid but the flu will come back, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) bronchiolitis will come back, so I think we’re going to have a bit of a rough winter.”

Booster campaign to 'make a difference'

He stated the upcoming Covid-19 booster campaign will "make a difference for a few people who are frail and elderly and have high risks, where their immunity might just need a bit of boosting, and it’s to try and give them an extra leg up to protect them".

Prime Minster Boris Johnson states he advocates the “massive” booster vaccination campaign to avoid further lockdowns and avoid another rough winter for the NHS.

Today the government will set strategies for “living with the virus” throughout this winter with a third jab available for over 50’s, staring with the over 70’s, and vulnerable people.

With concerns in Whitehall about the seasonal viruses appearing alongside covid, the experts have warned “we’re not out of the woods”.

Advice by The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has been given to ministers on a booster campaign which will be set out today.