On 21 February, the Prime Minister is expected to outline a ‘plan for living with COVID-19’. It is unclear whether the plan will be for the UK or just England.
What is the plan for living with COVID-19?
The plan will set out how the country will manage COVID-19 in the long term, covering all aspects of the pandemic and its effects on our lives.
We expect it will include the end of various measures that have been used to control the spread of COVID-19 so far. It's rumoured that will include the end of free testing for most people, payments to support people on low incomes to self-isolate and the tracing system.
The Government have already announced plans to end mandatory self-isolation for people who test positive in England from next week.
What could it mean for people living with MS?
Until the plan is announced we don’t know exactly what it will mean. But you might be worried about what the removal of remaining COVID-19 infection control measures means for your risk now.
Most people with MS are now well protected from COVID-19 by the vaccines. Studies so far indicate that most disease modifying therapies (DMT) for MS don’t increase your risk of getting COVID-19 or having worse symptoms. If you have been fully vaccinated and have no other risk factors you are at similar level of risk as everyone else in the UK.
But we know that some DMTs can make it less likely the vaccine will be as effective for you. And we know some people with MS are at greater risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19, because they have other risk factors.
We have produced information with our medical advisers estimating the relative risks for people with MS in different situations.
Read our information on MS and risk from COVID-19
We hope this will help you make decisions about what situations you’re comfortable with. You should follow your MS team's advice about managing risk.
Speaking up for people at higher risk from COVID-19
We're concerned that the Government is not fully considering the needs and concerns of people that remain at higher-risk from COVID-19. We want people who are less protected by the vaccines and at risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19 to be able to live normal lives just like everyone else.
That's why, along with 17 other charities, we have set ‘5 key tests’ the Government’s plan must pass to make sure people at highest risk from COVID-19 are well supported to live with COVID-19 now and into the future. We’ve sent our tests to Government Ministers and MPS today.
Our 5 tests for the plan
The 5 tests for the plan are:
1. Directly address the concerns of people at highest risk and commit to improve communication with them.
The Government must explain to people why it is ok to end existing COVID-19 measures, what it means for their risk now and how they will be supported to manage that.
2. Smooth, timely access to COVID-19 treatments
Too many people struggle to get quick access to treatment to help them not get very ill and the Government must fix these problems.
3. Lateral flow tests remain free
Access to free Lateral flow tests are vital to helping people avoid COVID-19 infection.
4. Improve employment protection and support
People at high risk whose doctors advise them not to go into their workplace should have the right to work from home or financial support if that’s not possible.
5. Set out a plan for the use of preventative COVID-19 treatments and prioritise more research into treatments and vaccines
Prophylactic (preventative) treatments could reduce their risk of people at high risk catching COVID-19 in the first place.