Last month Professor Tim Spector – who runs the ZOE COVID-19 symptom app – said the UK is ‘past the pandemic’. Here Neel Kothari discusses what this might mean for dentistry.
We’re now technically in an endemic and the COVID-19 alert level has dropped too. Essentially, we are no longer in a pandemic in its truest definition. In some parts of the UK, there have been days where there are hardly any cases or deaths.
When we first entered into unknown territory, there was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of people dying. We didn’t quite know exactly the level of precaution needed. But now we are in a very different position, largely because of the vaccine which has been tremendously effective.
PPE is also better – for example, everyone has access to it now. We also know that the number of people who have contracted COVID-19 in dentistry hasn’t been as high as we thought it would be.
A key reason for this is because we’ve been able to screen people unlike other areas where screening, social distancing and donning PPE is more difficult. We’ve now got to this point where we’ve left the pandemic and we’re in this endemic stage.
But we still have the precautions of the pandemic. It’s very difficult to know when we go back. From the NHS’ perspective, if it wants those targets to be hit there are some barriers – the main one being fallow time.
The next question becomes when does this stop? How does it stop? How do we get through our backlog of patients? There’s already some evidence in some hospital trusts up north that people are being instructed to no longer leave gaps between patients.
It becomes a case of when, in dentistry, we can start deescalating the levels of PPE etc back towards a level of normality. Ultimately what this comes down to is how are targets going to be met? And how are we going to get back to that 80-100% mark?
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