Public Health expert: Sheffield can be ‘cautiously optimistic’ despite slower drop in Coronavirus cases

A public health expert has reassured Sheffield residents over the slower drop in COVID-19 infections in the city.

Sheffield’s rate is falling thanks to the outstanding progress with the vaccine rollout  – but at a slower rate than much of the country.

It is estimated that 150 per 1,000 people in Sheffield test positive for the virus each week.

The Yorkshire region’s cases were low over Christmas due to avoiding the so-called ‘Kent variant’ which is more lethal than the original virus. However the variant has since become the U.K’s dominant strain.

Andrew Lee,46, Consultant for communicable diseases control in public health for Sheffield said that socio-economic factors are mainly to blame for the slower decline in the region.

Mr. Lee said: “There’s lots of people on jobs who can’t work from home, they’re going into work and getting infected there. Whereas down South more people are working from home.

Asked about the vaccine rollout he once again compared the South to Yorkshire. He noted that while Sheffield’s rollout is proceeding at a good pace , the number of people with long term health conditions is greater than in London. This has prevented the rollout extending to those aged under 50.

However, he struck an optimistic note when asked about progress on the governments roadmap for ending lockdown, seeing the timetable as ‘realistic’.

Caution was urged though and Mr. Lee said : “We can’t let our guard down, if we give this B1.1.7 (Kent) variant half a chance it will spread quickly”. He also stressed the importance of continuing to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines as we continue to drive infection rates downwards.

He  also stressed that measures may be brought back in future winters and ‘booster’ shots will possibly be needed to protect against new variants. He added: “We don’t know how long immunity will last, it may not be lifelong so we may need boosters”.

These annual Winter jabs would likely to be offered to the most elderly and vulnerable groups , much like the flu vaccines we’ve become accustomed to.

Written by Liam Fitzpatrick

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