Omicron variant: Clinically Extremely Vulnerable must not be ignored any longer

The Liberal Democrats have called for urgent measures to support the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), including a formal return and improvement of the shielding programme.The Government has so far failed to announce any specific measures for those who were classed as CEV in spite of their increased risk of serious illness from Covid. It comes after two cases of the newly discovered ‘Omicron’ variant of Covid were reported in the UK.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a five-point action plan to support the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. This would include the return of official centralised guidance, so that the 3.8 million vulnerable people on the ‘Shielded Patient List’ have clarity on what is safe for them to do and where to seek the tailored clinical advice and support they need. The previous shielding programme ended on September 15, yet recent ONS analysis found that one in five CEV people have continued to follow previous shielding guidance.

The party is also calling for a resolution to the fiasco around providing a third primary dose for the immuno-suppressed, and the naming of a Minister to have overall coordinating responsibility for all CEV matters and meeting patient groups monthly. It comes after the latest official figures showed around 100,000 or a quarter of extremely vulnerable people are yet to have their third jab.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, Daisy Cooper MP, said: “It’s often said that how a society treats its most vulnerable is the measure of its humanity, but if that’s the case, then this Government does not measure up.

Daisy Cooper MP

“People who are clinically extremely vulnerable and their families are incredibly worried about the news of a new variant on our shores. For too long, the Government has ignored these people, their concerns around the vaccine programme and the lack of guidance and support.

“The Government must not ignore them any longer: it must be proactive in tackling this new variant and protect those most at risk. The clinically vulnerable deserve clear guidance and support from ministers instead of being treated as an afterthought.

“The decision to end the shielding programme – when many continued to shield – left our most vulnerable feeling like the rug had been pulled out from underneath them. It’s high time the Government put support measures back in place, including getting on top of the utter mess surrounding third primary doses and introducing a shielding programme that genuinely supports those who need it.”

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