Posted: 23.02.21 at 15:50 by Sian Bayley, Local Democracy Reporter
One of Richmond’s top health officials has praised local doctors for “working their socks off” to roll out the coronavirus vaccination programme, and said it could have helped in bringing down the numbers of coronavirus cases locally.
Dr Patrick Gibson, the GP borough chair for Richmond upon Thames, spoke to Cllr Jim Millard this week on the Talk Richmond podcast.
He explained because Richmond was vaccinating in two practices right from the very start of the rollout, lots of people were vaccinated early.
“Whether it was cause or coincidence, we did see the Richmond numbers coming down in South West London before some of the other boroughs,” he said.
Currently the rate of infection in Richmond is 65.7 per 100,000 people in the seven days to February 17, 2021, one of the lowest in the capital.
The borough’s peak was 661 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to January 1, 2021.
Dr Gibson added: “There’s also a healthy competition that goes on between the primary care networks, so you see your peers doing well, and it does spur you into more action.
“There have been occasions where there’s been an opportunity to get short notice vaccine as well, so some of our sites have been notified on a Thursday that they’re going to get a supply which has to be used by the Sunday and have then proceeded to get 1,100 patients vaccinated in the course of a weekend.”
He said many practices have been working on the vaccine at the weekends, because it has less of an impact on the normal day-to-day work that goes on.
He said he thinks we will be able to “vaccinate ourselves out of the current situation”, but warned that we will have to live with the virus, just like the flu.
“We have managed to do that and I’m sure we will do so. The key part of it is this first part of work though to get a significant element of immunity into the population.
“It’s always difficult with viruses to predict what’s going to happen with them because they are constantly evolving and generally have not become progressively more aggressive over time, so that’s one comforting thing, but you have to watch them, and that’s why there’s so much attention being focused on the variants that are emerging.”
He said it will be possible to adapt the vaccines “very quickly if necessary”, but stressed it is “unlikely” this will be needed because the changes do not generally cause big enough fluctuations that would need a change to the vaccine.
“But we do have the technology there if we need to, which is a really very comforting thought really,” he said.