Simon Jones: End game?
Author: Simon Jones
The United Kingdom could be just weeks away from being able to say the coronavirus pandemic is ‘over,’ I heard a scientist say earlier this week. Talking on the BBC’s Today programme, Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said forthcoming data was likely to show that Covid-19 vaccines were even more successful at keeping people out of hospital than they were at preventing mild infection.
‘If the current generation of vaccines are able to stop people going into hospital… then the pandemic is over, because we can live with the virus,’ he told the programme.
Living with the virus is where things become tricky. As we begin to learn more about Covid-19, how practitioners and patients adapt to changing states of ‘normal’ will be hard to second guess.
Stringent disinfection protocols in practices have become the norm, but there’s a growing school of thought among scientists that surface transmission is not the main way SARS-CoV-2 spreads. In fact, according to recent editorial in Nature, it’s rare – and the World Health Organization, along with national public health agencies, need to update their advice.
On a personal level, this is pleasing news, as it might signal the end of wiping down our weekly shops at home. However, in practices, decisions will have to factor in evidence and what the public have come to expect.
Optical practices have earned a reputation for being among the safest places during the pandemic; (generally) limited numbers of patients, a portfolio of cleaning protocols and full PPE when working up close with patients. Among those protocols are surface cleaning measures like UV sterilisation of frames and accessories, but now the public has seen these stringent measures, is it ever going to accept anything less? I don’t think they will.