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Everything pharmacy teams need to know about COVID-19

On March 18, NHS England pledged to protect pharmacies’ income

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating news at breakneck speed, C+D presents all the essential information on the topic to help pharmacists manage the crisis

It can be tricky to keep up with the news about COVID-19. To ease the process, C+D has collected a summary of all its coverage on the virus’s impact on pharmacy, so readers can find everything affecting them in one article. The feed is divided into pharmacy news, supply news, clinical information and opinion articles.

This page will be updated with future C+D articles on COVID-19.

Click on the link to jump to the section impact of COVID-19 on pharmacy that you need:

How is pharmacy being affected?

What is happening to the supply of healthcare products?

What clinical information do I need to know?

Where are the C+D long-reads about the pandemic?

What do pharmacy professionals think about the crisis?

Pharmacy updates

November 25: The government should use part of the £1.5 billion set aside to help the NHS with COVID-19 pressures to give community pharmacies the help they “urgently need” , the PSNC has said.

November 19: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, has commended pharmacies for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling them the “bedrock of local communities”.

November 18: Lloydspharmacy is “absolutely considering” providing the COVID-19 vaccination service , while Boots is “in conversations” with NHSE&I on what role it could play.

November 13: PSNC decided to turn down an initial funding offer it received from the DH during the summer because it was “too limited”, it has announced.

November 12: Community pharmacy teams will be among the second cohort in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – alongside other health and social care workers, PSNC has claimed.

November 11: Asymptomatic NHS staff working in a community pharmacy in England will be able to test themselves for COVID-19 at home twice a week, NHSE&I has confirmed.

November 9: Boots staff have trained 2,000 members of the army on “swabbing and safety technique”, as part of the first pilot for whole city COVID-19 testing, taking place in Liverpool.

Nearly three-quarters of people would get a COVID-19 vaccine at their local pharmacy, a National Pharmacy Association (NPA) survey has found.

November 6: The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is pushing for a COVID-19 vaccination service in pharmacy “to have parity” with the one commissioned for GP practices.

November 5: The pandemic delivery service will restart in England from today as the country goes into a month-long lockdown, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has said.

Pharmacy minister Jo Churchill has said pharmacy is "better prepared" to deal with the rising levels of COVID-19, having adapted during the first wave earlier in the year.

November 4: Pharmacies will be part of the rollout of a national COVID-19 vaccination service before the end of 2020 should a vaccine become available, NHS boss Simon Stevens has indicated.

November 1: The government has announced that, until March 31 next year, patients will no longer need to sign the back of NHS prescriptions or EPS tokens, to help limit COVID-19 transmissions.

October 30: Superdrug has re-launched its at-home COVID-19 antibody testing service – which was withdrawn earlier this year – saying it is “confident” it complies with MHRA guidance.

October 27: NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has issued a new standard operating procedure for community pharmacies. This enables NHSE&I regional teams to inform contractors that they can work behind closed doors without the need to first apply for closed-door working, “at times of extreme pressure”. Pharmacies can do so for two and a half hours a day. However, on days where they are expected to be open, all pharmacies will be “expected to have their doors open to the public between 10am and 12pm and 2pm and 4pm as a minimum”, the notice said.

October 26: Boots is launching a £120 in-store COVID-19 swab test at “selected” locations this week, rolling it out to over 50 branches throughout November.

C+D and Professor Mahendra Patel are campaigning together to find 1,000 pharmacies to contribute to an Oxford University COVID-19 clinical trial by signposting suitable patients.

October 20: A £15 million funding package has been announced to support the mental health of NHS staff in England, including pharmacy teams, as part of efforts to manage the COVID-19 impact.

October 19: Industry bodies have welcomed the news that pharmacists can administer COVID-19 vaccines but called for clarity on their part in such a roll-out and assurances on access to vaccines.

October 16: Pharmacists will be able to administer licensed or unlicensed COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are approved by the MHRA, following a change in the law.

October 12: PSNC has advised pharmacy teams against sharing their colleagues’ details with NHS test and trace if they test positive for COVID-19.

October 7: Pharmacies are being treated “differently” than other health providers under NHS test and trace, causing “staffing pressures” due to requests to self-isolate, PSNC has warned.

September 28: Locum agencies have reported a drop in demand for locum pharmacists during spring and summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, C+D has found.

Some community pharmacy workers are struggling to get a COVID-19 test, despite their “essential workers” status, C+D has learned from pharmacy bodies.

September 14: The GP out of hours (OOH) services at NHS Scotland have thanked community pharmacy teams for their “hard work, care and help” during the pandemic.

September 10: Well has completed COVID-19 risk assessments for over 95% of its 6,700 employees so far, with 153 at “particular risk” requiring extra action, it has revealed.

September 2: The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has updated order limits for pharmacies requesting personal protective equipment (PPE) through the DH’s PPE portal. When pharmacies were added to the list of organisations that can obtain PPE through the portal last month (August 3), they could order 50 IIR masks, 100 aprons and 100 pairs of gloves per week, regardless of the size of their team. From today (September 2), pharmacies with more than five employees can order larger quantities of PPE through the portal – up to 400 IIR masks, 200 aprons, 200 pairs of gloves, and four bottles of hand hygiene (usually 500ml) per week, where they have 15 or more registered staff.

September 1: Emergency regulations, including flexible opening hours, have been extended to November 30, PSNC has announced. The regulations were introduced earlier during the pandemic by NHS England and Improvement to help pharmacies maintain their services during the COVID-19 outbreak. They allow pharmacies to make temporary changes to opening hours or close temporarily.

The pre-registration exam pass rate in Northern Ireland was 98% this year, despite the impact of COVID-19, the Pharmaceutical Society Northern Ireland (PSNI) has announced.

August 28: The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation to expand the scope of patient group directions (PGDs) so that any medicine, including a licensed or potentially unlicensed COVID-19 vaccine, can be administered by the workforce that already administers vaccines under a PGD. Currently, under the Human Medicine Regulations 2012, only “appropriate practitioners” – including pharmacist independent prescribers – can administer vaccines. However, the range of professionals allowed to deliver certain prescription-only medicines can be expanded through a PGD. This is the case, for instance, for pharmacists annually administering the flu jabs as part of the national community pharmacy flu vaccination service. The consultation is expected to run for three weeks.

A Boots pharmacist has worked with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) to translate a video explaining the role of the NHS test and trace programme into Punjabi.

August 27: A community pharmacy hepatitis C service will launch in September after it was postponed due to COVID-19, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced.

Pharmacies that have had a “standards not all met” inspection outcome are now able to be re-inspected by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the regulator has said.

August 21: Community pharmacists do not need to wear gloves and aprons when they administer flu jabs and other vaccinations, according to updated guidance by the UK public health bodies.

August 19: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a concerning drop in footfall and dispensing volume, contractors and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) have warned.

Pharmacy contractors must “keep up-to-date” and follow health and safety guidance when it comes to reporting COVID-19 cases, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.

August 18: Lloydspharmacy’s Online Doctor has reported a 126% increase in the number of STI tests it dispensed between March and June 2020, compared to the same period last year.

August 15: Public Health England (PHE) will be scrapped and replaced by a pandemic-specific body known as the National Institute for Health Protection, according to The Telegraph newspaper.

August 11: Pharmacies in England must once again “be open to the public for all their contracted opening hours”, NHS England and Improvement said in an updated COVID-19 standard operating procedure (SOP). The provision stating that pharmacies could close their doors to the public for up to 2.5 hours a day that was introduced in March has been removed from the updated SOP. However, where pharmacies have “an agreement to work behind closed doors during their normal opening hours”, they should display information on their door detailing how patients needing urgent help can get in touch, NHSE&I said.

August 10: All community pharmacies in Scotland will this year be able to give out flu vaccinations under a national service due to COVID-19, C+D has learned.

It is now mandatory for patients visiting pharmacies and other "indoor spaces" in Northern Ireland to wear a face covering. Wearing a face mask in shops, including pharmacies, has been compulsory in Scotland since July 10 and in England since July 24.

August 3: Pharmacies in England are now able to receive free deliveries from the government’s PPE portal after initially being excluded from the service, it has been announced.

Lloydspharmacy’s parent company McKesson has reported a 300% revenue rise for its prescription management app Echo, compared to before the outbreak of COVID-19.

July 31: LPCs and pharmacy contractors in England are worried the pandemic delivery service ended with too “short notice” and that the decision has not been well communicated to patients.

July 30: The health secretary has praised community pharmacies for showing “how much more” they can contribute to the health service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic delivery service has been extended in parts of England affected by local outbreaks of COVID-19, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) has announced.

July 24: The government has expanded the flu jab programme to “ready the NHS” for winter pressures and a potential second peak of COVID-19 by extending eligibility for free vaccinations.

July 22: The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has received more than 1,600 applications from pre-registration trainees to join its provisional register, C+D has learned.

July 21: It is “not appropriate” for community pharmacies to sell or recommend COVID-19 rapid response antibody tests, following current public health advice, the GPhC has said.

July 20: Superdrug has launched a nurse-led phlebotomy antibody test for COVID-19 that patients can access at its health clinics.

It is “totally unrealistic” for the government to point to recent funding for pharmacies as though it has “solved the problem”, a Conservative peer has said.

July 15: The Government is developing a policy to expand the number of healthcare professionals who can give vaccines as part of its COVID-19 response.

July 14: Wearing a face covering in shops in England, including pharmacies, will become mandatory for the public from July 24, the government has announced.

July 13: Community pharmacy contractors in England can claim £1,630 if they meet all requirements for a new Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS), focusing on the sector’s response to COVID-19.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has closed an investigation against a pharmacy regarding hand sanitiser products price hikes after finding that the prices charged by the pharmacy “do not or are unlikely to” infringe competition laws. Last month, the GPhC and CMA issued a statement warning contractors against profiteering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 10: The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has called for ‘urgent change’ to the 2020/21 flu service following COVID-19, including the supply of PPE to all pharmacy providers.

July 8: The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has announced that this year’s first registration assessment will take place on August 11 across three venues.

July 9: Community pharmacy contractors in England need to submit an online declaration detailing their progress in assessing “at risk” team members –including black, Asian and minority ethnic staff – for COVID-19 related risks. NHS Business Services Authority, which is supervising the process on behalf of NHS England and Improvement, said contractors need to submit their declaration in two windows for collection: July 9-17 and July 24-31.

NHS England and Improvement has extended a temporary suspension of the requirement to obtain a patient’s consent before they can receive their medication via electronic repeat dispensing (eRD). The suspension, which was set to expire on June 30, will now continue until September 30 to encourage the use of eRD where it is “clinically appropriate”.

July 7: Lloydspharmacy has announced proposed changes, including possible redundancies, to keep the business viable in “a volatile marketplace” and in the face of COVID-19.

July 6: English pharmacies who bought faulty Cardinal Type IIR face masks from wholesalers will receive free replacements from them, the DH has told C+D.

The PDA has called on pharmacy employers to report cases of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, after it was revealed that zero such cases have been flagged by the sector.

July 2: Wearing a face covering will be mandatory in shops in Scotland, including community pharmacies, the Scottish government has announced.

June 30: In March, emergency measures were put in place to allow pharmacies to make temporary changes to opening hours or close temporarily at short notice if there are adequate reasons. This directive, designed to help pharmacies through the COVID-19 outbreak, will continue until September 1, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has said.

June 29: There has been a “marked decrease” in the number of patient safety incidents flagged to the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) during the pandemic, the organisation has said.

June 25: COVID-19 has seen demand for flu vaccines rise ahead of the 2020/21 season, with one manufacturer warning it expects demand to keep outpacing how quickly it can make new doses.

June 16: Health secretary Matt Hancock visited Market Chemist in London to extend his thanks to community pharmacy workers for their ongoing support during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Pharmacists have been at the forefront of supporting people through this pandemic, and I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of them for supporting this country and their local community," Mr Hancock said.

June 15: Frontline staff and volunteers in England will be given access to a psychological first aid training course to support those affected by COVID-19, the government has announced.

June 12: The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has reported a 29% increase in the number of fitness to practise concerns it received in April.

June 10: Sixty-four per cent of disabled people in Scotland have struggled to access medicines and food amid the COVID-19 outbreak, a parliamentary debate heard.

June 9: Pharmacy contractors should “assume” that wearing a fluid-resistant surgical mask will be “a minimum requirement” for delivering the flu service this season, the PSNC has said.

Numark launched a #saveourpharmacies radio campaign last week, to encourage public support of its campaign to “secure fairer funding for pharmacies”. Managing director Jeremy Meader said Numark hopes the radio initiative, which will run for two weeks on Heart, Classic FM and LBC, will “go a long way to raise public awareness of the financial plight of pharmacies”. You can sign the #saveourpharmacies petition for greater investment in community pharmacy here.

Boots and the PDA Union have agreed that provisionally registered pharmacists will receive the same salary as those who are newly qualified.

Pharmacy teams are eligible for help from NHS volunteers, who can take on tasks including delivering shopping or transporting individuals to appointments, the DH has confirmed.

June 8: Rowlands has clarified it will not be asking locums to source their own PPE or risk having future shifts cancelled following emails appearing to show this was the case.

Pharmacy teams have a “professional responsibility” to self-isolate for 14 days if they are asked to do so by contact tracers, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.

Lloydspharmacy is working with Professor Mahendra Patel to help inform its strategy on reducing COVID-19-related risks for its BAME workforce.

The pharmacy sales market has remained strong despite the COVID-19 outbreak, brokers Christie & Co and Hutchings Consultants have told C+D.

The RPS has asked the government to make it compulsory for patients to wear a face covering in pharmacies, as well as hospitals, to ensure “consistency” across the NHS.

June 3: Northway Pharmacy in Oxford will close its doors permanently in August after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in income from services and a doubling of medicines deliveries.

Pharmacy bodies have voiced disappointment that a Public Health England (PHE) review “fails” to offer guidance on how to mitigate the higher COVID-19 risks for BAME people.

The NHS test and trace service is a “blunt instrument” on which the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is seeking urgent clarity, its CEO Simon Dukes has said.

June 2: The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has developed a task force of locum pharmacists who are willing to travel to where their help is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 700 pharmacists have registered their interest in the PDA scheme, and the PDA has approached all clinical commissioning groups in England and the health boards in the other UK countries. Tasks locums could help with include assisting with phone contact with patients and delivering end-of-life equipment to patients’ homes, the PDA said.

Despite calls from the pharmacy sector to lift the NHS prescription charge in England during COVID-19, the government has “no plans” to do so.

The RPS has sought assurances from pharmacy minister Jo Churchill on access to the PPE portal and antibody tests and the implications of the test and trace scheme for pharmacy.

By June 5, approximately 19,000 pharmacists and over 3,500 pharmacy technicians will be able to access digital services including summary care records and the electronic prescription service from any community pharmacy, NHS Digital has said. It has created temporary smartcard positions for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to give them “additional flexibility” in accessing these services “for an initial 12 months” during the pandemic.

May 30: NHS BSA data shows that a record number of prescription items – 92,840,309 – were dispensed by community pharmacies in March, compared with 85,033,921 in March 2019. This is the highest number of prescription items dispensed in one month since records began in 2014.

May 29: Waiting longer for medicines has been the most common trigger for abuse from patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, a C+D survey of pharmacy professionals has found.

Lab-based COVID-19 antibody testing using a finger-prick blood sample should be temporarily halted, the MHRA has said.

May 28: Community pharmacies in England will receive a further £50 million in “advance funding” in recognition of the “cashflow crisis” they are facing due to COVID-19, PSNC has announced.

Pharmacies should continue to order personal protective equipment (PPE) from their usual wholesalers, the DH has said as it launches a new ordering portal for GPs and care homes.

May 27: Pharmacy teams have adapted well to the added pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, but many are struggling with the increased demand for their services, a C+D survey has found.

The GPhC has said it was already considering moving the pre-registration exam online before the COVID-19 outbreak, but the pandemic “brought forward” its decision.

May 22: A new campaign has been launched by the sector's charity Pharmacist Support to support community pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DH and NHSBSA should change their processes around the switching of paper prescriptions during the pandemic, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

May 21: Pre-regs who meet the criteria to provisionally join the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register “may operate as responsible pharmacists”, the regulator has said.

NHS staff in England, including community pharmacy teams, will be given priority access to COVID-19 antibody tests, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has said.

Victims of domestic violence could be given a codeword to “get help from shop workers” – including pharmacy teams – during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Home Office has announced.

May 20: Superdrug has launched a COVID-19 antibody blood test, available through its online doctor service.

Lloydspharmacy’s parent company has attributed a 239% profit increase to its European business in part to “rationalising store footprint” and “streamlining back office functions”.

Lloydspharmacy’s parent company expects a profit decline across its European business this financial year, partly due to “severe social restrictions” in the UK over COVID-19.

May 19: Pharmacies in England will not be required to open on the May 25 bank holiday, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has announced.

May 15: Almost half of temporarily registered pharmacy professionals responding to a recent GPhC survey are undecided about going back to work in the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well Pharmacy will award a payment to around 6,000 of its employees in recognition of their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the multiple has said.

May 14: Community pharmacies have been asked to ensure they have enough stock of the recommended adult flu vaccines for the 2020/21 season, as demand is predicted to rise due to COVID-19.

Eight health boards in Scotland have already redeployed some of their pharmacy staff to work in the community or would be able to do so if needed, C+D has learned.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association and the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers have written a joint letter to Matt Hancock to stress the need for government engagement with the trade unions that represent the community pharmacy workforce. The letter highlights that pharmacy teams are working under “increasingly difficult conditions” and asks that the government meet with the unions to discuss how to protect both the public and pharmacy teams from the risks posed by COVID-19.

May 13: Pharmacies in Staffordshire are set to each receive four visors free of charge. This follows efforts by South Staffordshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) and North Staffordshire and Stoke LPC, who are working with #Printforvictory – a community of volunteers who make 3D printed face shields for healthcare workers. A North Staffordshire and Stoke spokesperson told C+D today (May 13) that, in total, around 1,000 visors will be delivered to pharmacies in the area by the volunteers.

May 12: A Birmingham MP has written a letter to community pharmacies in her constituency thanking them for their “exemplary work” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well Pharmacy will award a payment to around 6,000 of its employees in recognition of their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the multiple has said.

May 11: The government has advised members of the public to wear a face covering in “enclosed public spaces”, including pharmacies.

The RPS has shared that pharmacy teams have access to priority shopping slots in Tesco stores, following confirmation from the supermarket chain. This follows concerns raised by RPS members that Tesco social media posts indicated that pharmacy workers were not eligible for priority shopping. The RPS also clarified that Morrisons and Asda similarly welcome pharmacy teams as part of their priority shopping arrangements.

May 10: Prime minister Boris Johnson has thanked pharmacists for their hard work and commitment during COVID-19. Speaking to the nation on Sunday to outline a three-step plan out of the lockdown, Mr Johnson praised “all those who are helping us to beat this disease”, expressing his gratitude to pharmacists and other professions for their “devotion and self-sacrifice”.

May 7: The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has confirmed that arrangements are in place to provide indemnity to community pharmacy teams in England for COVID-related activity. The same state-backed indemnity scheme covering NHS activities carried out as part of the response to the pandemic does not extend to pharmacies in Scotland. It does, however, cover pharmacies in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has written to RPS president Sandra Gidley to confirm that the DH's death in service scheme extends to "members of the pharmacy workforce who worked in, or were in training to become" registered pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dispensing assistants or medicine counter assistants. However, Mr Hancock said that because of the "different nature of employment in community pharmacy", the government has "designed the scheme by way of [him] having discretion to make awards to those in pharmacy who meet the conditions of the scheme". No further information regarding this adjustment was made available in the letter.

Community pharmacy teams in England “will be eligible” for the government’s life assurance scheme, England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge has said.

Community pharmacists in Northern Ireland could be given prescribing powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020, it has been announced.

May 6: Pharmacy minister Jo Churchill has praised community pharmacists’ work during the pandemic in a video message on Twitter. Ms Churchill said pharmacists are “providing an outstanding response to patients” and that she is “grateful for [their] dedication in these challenging times”.

May 5: Manufacturer Chiesi has announced it is releasing additional batches of Clenil 100mcg into the UK supply chain as demand for inhalers has rocketed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

May 4: Around 25 EDF engineers, who would normally be installing smart meters, have volunteered to deliver medicines to patients in the south, south east and south west of England on behalf of Lloydspharmacy. The volunteers, who will start delivering medicines from today, have been matched to local pharmacies and virtually trained on the safety measures they need to adopt. EDF had previously begun working with Boots, donating drivers and vans to help with deliveries.

May 1: Pharmacies in England must open between 2pm and 5pm on May 8 – the early May Bank Holiday – NHS England & NHS Improvement has confirmed. As for the Easter bank holidays, contractors will receive £250 an hour for a maximum of three hours on this day.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the wider community pharmacy team is eligible for the state-funded COVID-19 death in service scheme.

Pharmacy teams in Wales are not expected to routinely open on the bank holiday, but individual health boards may ask for additional cover if necessary.

May 1: Boots has partnered with the UK Says No More campaign to turn its consultation rooms into “safe spaces” for victims of domestic abuse, and other pharmacies can join the initiative.

April 30: In a matter of days, the government has made a U-turn on its exclusion of pharmacists from the COVID-19 death in service scheme, following a C+D campaign to include pharmacy teams.

Pharmacies have been warned to be on their guard against phone scammers falsely claiming to be from the police and trying to obtain sensitive information.

April 29: Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said in an oral statement today that the death-in-service scheme in Wales “gives equal recognition to staff across health, social care and community pharmacy”.

Overseas pharmacists and working pre-registration students are eligible for an immediate free extension to their visas, the Home Office has announced.

New legislation will allow pharmacists to supply certain controlled drugs without a script to patients who have been prescribed them before when given the go ahead by government.

Sector bodies have expressed outrage after the Department of Health (DH) said pharmacy teams in England are not automatically eligible for a new £60,000 life assurance payout.

April 28: Families of pharmacists who die from COVID-19 will only receive a death in service payment in “exceptional circumstances”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has said.

Numark has launched a petition requesting that the government “rethink the current funding model and invest appropriately” in community pharmacies in England, who are “on the brink of bankruptcy”. The petition launches as COVID-19 has shown that community pharmacies are “an invaluable resource on the frontline of healthcare”, Numark said.

Community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in England could be asked to check medicines for re-use in care homes and hospices in line with a COVID-19 SOP.

April 27: Current pre-registration pharmacists who meet “certain criteria” will soon have the option to provisionally join the GPhC register, the regulator has said.

April 24: Community pharmacy teams in England were eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 test on the government website from today (April 24), but within hours applications closed temporarily.

Well had to temporarily stop taking on new patients to “clear the backlog” that built up amid the COVID-19 outbreak, while other online pharmacies have also seen a surge in demand.

The government should scrap the NHS prescription charge in England for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSNC has said.

Community pharmacies in England must open on May 8, despite it being a bank holiday, NHS England and NHS Improvement has stipulated.

April 22: NHS England has said it could ask pharmacies to open on the May bank holidays but is currently unable to give “a final decision” as discussions are still ongoing.

The government is working with eBay on piloting an online portal that will allow primary and social care providers to order personal protective equipment (PPE) for free.

Boots has hired more than 500 extra drivers to help meet the increased demand for medicines delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, the multiple has said.

There was a “significant rise” in the number of fitness to practise concerns it received in March, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

An RPS survey of 445 pharmacists found that 94% of respondents are unable to maintain the two metre social distancing from other staff in their workplace because the pharmacy is too small. Another 40% said they have been unable to maintain the two metre distance from patients.

April 21: A campaign to recognise the contribution community pharmacy has made during the COVID-19 pandemic has been launched by the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp).

Boots pharmacists who are shielding or self-isolating due to COVID-19 are providing pharmacy advice to patients through the NHS 111 triage service, the multiple has said.

The four largest multiples have told C+D they have redeployed clinically trained and support staff who usually work in other parts of the company to help frontline pharmacy teams.

April 20: Boots is trialling an online pharmacy video consultation service to support patients who are self-isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 19: Leicestershire Police volunteers have delivered more than 700 prescriptions to people who are self-isolating since March 27. The volunteers are part of Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response, a charity mainly focused on transporting personnel or supplies in times of severe weather conditions.

April 17: Community pharmacy professionals in England who are self-isolating with symptoms of COVID-19 can now get swab tested thanks to increased testing capacity, the DH has said.

The Welsh government has announced that pharmacy teams in Wales will have access to the Health for Health Professionals Wales service – which offers mental health support but was previously for doctors only – during COVID-19. The free service helps healthcare professionals with conditions including anxiety, depression and PTSD.

While the GPhC and RPS will not deem pharmacies responsible for the actions of NHS volunteers delivering medicines, the law may hold them accountable, legal experts have warned.

April 15: Pharmacy professionals who use NHS COVID-19 volunteers “in good faith” will not be “regarded as responsible” for the helpers' actions, the GPhC and RPS have said.

Boots has temporarily closed 60 pharmacies seeing reduced footfall amid the COVID-19 outbreak, as the locations patients visit has “changed fundamentally in the last few weeks”.

A volunteer-led medicines delivery service has been launched in Northern Ireland to assist pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DH has said.

April 14: Undergraduate pharmacy students wishing to work for a pharmacy during the pandemic should start their roles after completing their final assessments, industry bodies have said.

Patients can use ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat the symptoms of COVID-19, an MHRA advisory body and Nice have said.

April 13: Pharmacy teams in England and Wales should “have reassurance” that they are covered by protective laws against violent attacks, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.

April 12: Former health minister Jackie Doyle-Price has warned that pharmacies are “at breaking point” and that the pressure on them is “immense” in a blog for a national newspaper.

April 10: English pharmacies are now contractually required to help “shielded” patients receive their prescriptions during the pandemic, with extra funding secured, the PSNC has announced.

April 8: Pharmacy teams in England will be able to access a free mental health hotline during the pandemic, NHS England has announced.

English contractors will be able to claim £1,500 for the three hours they are required to open on both Good Friday and Easter Monday, NHS England has said.

April 7: NHS England’s use of volunteers to deliver medicines to patients could be exploited by “fraudsters”, the PSNC has warned.

Pharmacies in Scotland will receive “an initial package” of £5.5m to help them cover the costs of COVID-19, health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

NHS England has clarified that, while it requires pharmacies to open for three fixed hours on Good Friday and Easter Monday, pharmacies should seek an exemption from their regional NHS England team if they think there is no need to open on those days, for example, if there is “minimal demand”.

April 3: Pharmacies will be required to treat Good Friday and Easter Monday as normal working days and therefore be open on those days, the PSNC said in a statement today. NHS England & NHS Improvement requires all "community pharmacies to be open for a few hours" on those days as part of the NHS response to the pandemic.

Locums should not try to profit from the COVID-19 outbreak by colluding to “inflate their hourly rate”, the GPhC chief executive has told C+D.

Pharmacy minister Jo Churchill has written an open letter to the sector commending its “outstanding response to patients” during COVID-19.

April 2: The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has received clarification that the funding to cover the cost of installing physical barriers, “such as screens and retractable tape barriers”, will not be taken from the global sum. NHS England announced on March 31 that all pharmacies apart from distance-selling ones will receive £300 to install barriers to enforce social distancing.

Pharmacy teams should wear fluid-resistant surgical masks if social distancing cannot be maintained, according to new guidance applicable across the UK.

April 1: Emergency measures have been proposed to give pharmacists the power to supply certain controlled drugs to patients without a prescription during the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 31: Community pharmacies in England will receive £300 million in “advance funding” over the next two months to alleviate cash flow issues caused by COVID-19, the PSNC has announced

The NPA, RPS, AIMp and CCA have welcomed the government’s £300 million funding advancement but said it isn’t enough to keep pharmacies afloat during the pandemic

Community pharmacies in Scotland will receive an advance payment “three times the value of the net amount paid at the end of December 2019”, Community Pharmacy Scotland director of operations Matt Barclays has announced. He told C+D that while he could not share an exact figure, the value should “more than cover wholesale bills and staff costs, which will be considerable”.

The NHS Pharmacy First service – a new Scottish minor ailments service – will go live “later in the year” due to COVID-19. Community Pharmacy Scotland and the Scottish Government are working together to identify a new suitable launch date for the service, which was expected to go live on April 22.

March 30: Regulators and pharmacy bodies are calling on pharmacies to consider how social distancing can be achieved at their premises

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen electronic prescription service nominations increase “significantly” for distance-selling pharmacies Pharmacy2U and Echo.

It would be an “absurdity” and “abuse of the regulatory system” to report locums to the GPhC for negotiating higher hourly rates, the PDA has said.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has thanked “wonderful pharmacists” for their work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 29: Pharmacy teams in England will be tested for COVID-19 for free if they are showing symptoms, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced.

March 27: Pharmacies and pharmacy bodies have highlighted an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour by patients since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 27: Community pharmacies in Wales will receive £50 million as an “advance payment”, the Welsh government has announced. The payment “will be recovered over a ten-month period in equal instalments starting June 1”, the government added.

March 26: The GPhC and the PSNI have decided to postpone all of this year’s registration assessments following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The government must “ensure” pharmacies receive personal protective equipment to protect against COVID-19, the PDA said in a letter to Matt Hancock.

Pharmacies need to prepare to close unexpectedly, "assess the risks of" remote supervision and operate flexible working hours, according to COVID-19 guidelines by pharmacy bodies.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a direct cash grant for self-employed individuals who have lost their income due to COVID-19. The self-employed income support scheme will offer workers 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years” – up to £2,500 a month for at least three months.

March 25: Wholesaler AAH has decided to move to a “predominantly once a day delivery service” to protect healthcare staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has announced.

As the COVID-19 outbreak gets worse, pre-registration pharmacists and pharmacy technicians may be required “to help with service provision”, HEE has said.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has asked supermarkets to make sure pharmacy staff can access priority shopping slots for NHS workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alliance Healthcare is set to deliver personal protective equipment to Scottish pharmacies on behalf of the Scottish government. Pharmacies will receive the equipment next Monday, Community Pharmacy Scotland director of operations Matt Barclay said in an update to contractors.

March 24: A community pharmacist has created a list of ideas to help pharmacies cope with COVID-19, with the document widely shared on social media by colleagues in the UK and overseas.

A national community pharmacy medicines delivery service for England is due to start “in the next few days”, the PSNC has said.

A £10.5m relief package to help community pharmacies deal with the pressure of the COVID-19 outbreak in Northern Ireland has been announced.

March 23: Pharmacies in England that are “under significant pressure” due to the COVID-19 pandemic can close to the public for up to 2.5 hours a day, including lunch, NHS England has said.

March 20: Pharmacists voiced their disappointment on social media that a list of “key workers” published by the Department for Education failed to mention the profession directly.

March 19: The government is “seeking to commission” community pharmacies to supply medicines without a prescription and deliver medicines to vulnerable patients, the PSNC announced today.

Pharmacies left without a responsible pharmacist or locum cover will not have to shut their doors during the COVID-19 outbreak,pharmacy regulators have said.

Business rate “holidays” have been extended to all retailers to support companies dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

March 18: NHS England has pledged to protect pharmacies’ income as the UK prepares for the “peak” of the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 17: NPA and CCA have asked patients to “act responsibly” and not stockpile medicines, while AIMp has called for “emergency” funding.

The GPhC has announced it is stopping all routine inspections from today.

March 16: PHE has advised against the use of COVID-19 tests in community pharmacies and at home.

Financial pressures caused by COVID-19 may cause pharmacies to close permanently unless the government provides a funding boost, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes has said.

March 13: The government has announced its spending plans for the year ahead, with a focus on small businesses and statutory sick pay for those affected by COVID-19.

The GPhC could grant temporary registration to 5,800 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians no longer on its register if an emergency is declared during the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 9: The national antimicrobial stewardship clinical audit for 2019/2020 has been waived to allow pharmacies to focus on implementing COVID-19 prevention tactics.

March 6: The GPhC has said it will take COVID-19 into account if it receives concerns related to professionals on its register where the virus is a factor.

March 2: NHS England has released COVID-19 guidance for community pharmacy, including advice on isolating patients.

Supply issues

October 30: The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has restricted the export of flu vaccines from the UK in a bid to protect supplies for UK patients. The measure, which relates to all flu vaccines used in the UK this winter, follows a global increase in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and will “stop the exporting of medicines placed on the market to be used in the UK”, the DH said.

May 21: COVID-19 related medicines shortages have affected 77% of pharmacy professionals and are the biggest problem businesses have faced since the outbreak, a C+D survey can reveal.

Community pharmacies in England have told C+D they are still struggling to get hold of face masks despite the DH sending additional quantities to wholesalers earlier this month.

April 14: Pharmacies can contact the national supply disruption response line if they have not received their PPE packs or “or if the pack delivered is incomplete”, pharmacy minister Jo Churchill said in a written answer to a parliamentary question. “Should community pharmacies require further PPE supplies, they can order this through their wholesalers”, she added.

April 2: Pharmacists in England are reporting difficulties sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) through the national supply disruption response (NSDR) line.

March 24: RPS president Sandra Gidley has appeared on the BBC, urging patients not to panic-buy medicines. The BBC news segment highlighted the increased pressure and workload community pharmacies face due to COVID-19.

March 20: Wholesaler body the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) issued a “plea to pharmacies” to return tote boxes quickly amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 20: Pharmacies have reported difficulty in getting hold of paracetamol in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, although the DH has said there is no shortage of the drug.

March 19: Pharmacies can split “larger packs of paracetamol” and sell smaller quantities to the public, the GPhC has said as pharmacies report struggling to source the OTC analgesic.

March 10: PHE is “working with wholesalers” to replenish stocks in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge has said.

March 6: The CMA has called on retailers to “behave responsibly” and not increase prices during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Boots and Lloyds have confirmed they are limiting customers to two bottles of hand sanitiser each as bulk buying of the product increases with the spread of the COVID-19.

February 21: An online pharmacy has seen sales of hand sanitisers increase over 1,000% in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

February 11: Businesses have been told to “retain existing stockpiles” of medicines as a precautionary measure as the DH evaluates the COVID-19 impact.

January 31: UK pharmacies are selling out of face masks and struggling to get them from wholesalers, as the Wuhan novel COVID-19 outbreak drives up demand.

Clinical advice

Family abuse

Family abuse during COVID-19

Lockdown and mental health

How will the easing of lockdown affect mental health?

PPE and heat stress

How can you reduce the risk of PPE related heat stress?

COVID-19 treatment

Clinical trial efficacy for dexamethasone and COVID-19

Smoking cessation

Quitting smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Influenza vaccination

Delivering a flu immunisation service during the COVID-19 pandemic

Eating disorders and lockdown

Supporting patients with eating disorders during lockdown

Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19

What does the Early Access to Medicines Scheme mean for the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19?

Tests and tesing kits

What pharmacists need to know about how testing for COVID-19 is regulated

Nice rapid guideline summary: immunocompromised children and young people

Read our summary of the Nice rapid guidelines for immunocompromised children and young people

Yellow card reporting

What adverse reactions should be reported for medicines and devices related to COVID-19 treatment?

Medicines delivery

Managing medicine deliveries during lockdown

Personal protective equipment

When should personal protective equipment be worn in the pharmacy?

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine

What is the latest advice for the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19?

Nice rapid guideline summary: cystic fibrosis

Read our summary of the Nice rapid guidelines for cystic fibrosis

Recruiting in lockdown

How can managers hire new staff in the current crisis?

Nice rapid guideline summary: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Read our summary of the Nice rapid guidelines for community-based care of patients with COPD

Nice rapid guideline summary: severe asthma

Read our summary of the Nice rapid guidelines for severe asthma

Pharmacy teams and Ramadan considerations

How can pharmacy teams prepare for Ramadan during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Nice rapid guideline summary: managing symptoms in the community

Read our summary of the Nice rapid guidelines for symptoms of COVID-19 in the community

Emollient use following frequent handwashing

What can you recommend to patients suffering skin irritation as a result of frequent handwashing?

Nice rapid guideline summary: pneumonia

Read our summary of the Nice rapid guidelines for managing pneumonia in adults

Boosting immunity

Advice for patients on improving their immune system in the face of the pandemic

COVID-19 and antihypertensives

Managing patients taking medicines for high blood pressure

Paying pharmacy staff

With staff numbers depleted and the ability to run services drastically reduced, juggling salary costs is a pressing challenge for many contractors

Supervised consumption

How should you maintain social distancing practices for patients requiring supervised consumption?

Pharmacy students

What does the COVID-19 pandemic mean for pharmacy students and pre-registration pharmacists?

Mental health

Pharmacy teams are under strain during the COVID-19 crisis, so how can they look after their mental health during this time?

Vulnerable patients: pregnancy

What is the latest guidance for those who are pregnant that may be in contact with COVID-19 patients?

Symptoms of COVID-19

What is the difference in symptoms between cold or the flu and COVID-19?

Handwashing

How and when should you use hand sanitiser and wash your hands to protect yourself against and prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Treating patients with COVID-19

What can you tell concerned patients about preventing the transmission of COVID-19?

Team support

How pharmacy teams can best support patients during the COVID-19 crisis

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a large family of viruses that can be transmitted between animals and people.

COVID-19 features

Pharmacy contractors should be aware of which COVID-19 tests they are legally allowed to sell to avoid inadvertently breaking the law

A pharmacy team in Shropshire has been stretched to its limit by staff shortages while managing unprecedented demand

In a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock, C+D editor Beth Kennedy questions why pharmacy teams aren’t automatically covered by COVID-19 life assurance for healthcare workers

Pharmacies will struggle to use volunteers to supply the few patients eligible for NHS England's medicines delivery service, contractors say

Although this is a pressurised period for pre-registration pharmacists, the postponement of the assessment is an opportunity for personal development

One pharmacy in Manchester has been dispensing sertraline at a “massive loss” since the outbreak of COVID-19

Pharmacies across England are questioning their future after seeing a surge of demand from panicked patients following the COVID-19 outbreak

A minority of locum pharmacists have increased their hourly rates following the COVID-19 outbreak, sparking controversy across the sector

Pharmacy teams reveal escalating levels of abuse from patients during the COVID-19 outbreak

Public Health England (PHE) does not recommend the public wear protective face masks, but pharmacy teams can share their effective use with those who ignore that advice

COVID-19 opinion

Funding issues must be taken seriously before community pharmacy can integrate with other areas of healthcare, says Laura Buckley

CE marking regulations separate legal COVID-19 test sales from illegal ones, says lawyer David Reissner

Providing COVID-19 antibody tests as a pharmacy service would increase workload but help to show the public what the sector is capable of, says The Multiple Manager

The COVID-19 outbreak worsened existing funding problems for community pharmacy, forcing the closure of a branch of my independent pharmacy group, says Stuart Gale

GPs and pharmacists should work together to manage patient expectations and explain why healthcare has been disrupted during the pandemic, says Dr Toni Hazell

Is now the best time to be easing lockdown measures, ponders NPA chair Andrew Lane

Solicitors acting on behalf of healthcare professionals argue the government may be legally failing in its duty to protect health workers, says David Reissner

Community pharmacies could be the setting for delivering a COVID-19 vaccine in the future, but there are regulatory challenges to overcome first, says Susan Hunneyball

The government’s initial exclusion of pharmacy teams from its COVID-19 death in service payment scheme was the icing on top of a distasteful cake, says Laura Buckley

Abusive patients, long hours and increased workload due since the COVID-19 outbreak are taking their toll on pharmacy teams. But it won’t last forever, says the Multiple Manager

Pharmacists need to know whether they will have to prove they have been in contact with a patient with COVID-19 to receive the £60,000 death-in-service payout, Mike Hewitson says

Pharmacy teams need a government cash injection to be able to continue supplying medicines to patients during the COVID-19 outbreak, says The Contractor

The GPhC’s comments about a minority of locum pharmacists “profiteering” from COVID-19 are not what is needed from the regulator, says Mitesh Patel

Pharmacists need to know whether they will have to prove they have been in contact with a patient with COVID-19 to receive the £60,000 death-in-service payout, Mike Hewitson says

Pharmacy teams need a government cash injection to be able to continue supplying medicines to patients during the COVID-19 outbreak, says The Contractor

Contractors have a legal obligation to take steps to ensure the health and safety of employees as best they can during the COVID-19 outbreak, says solicitor Rachel Warren

Community pharmacies could face legal claims arising from the actions of altruistic NHS Volunteer Responders delivering their medicines, says lawyer Andrea James

Checking patient prescription exemption claims is an unnecessary burden on pharmacy teams in England during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Mike Hewitson

Deferring the June and September pharmacy pre-registration exams was the only viable option for candidates during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Khalid Khan

Having NHS volunteers deliver medicines is not straightforward, so legal expert David Reissner suggests a statement for them to sign to ensure things run as smoothly as possible

In a letter to health minister Matt Hancock, C+D editor Beth Kennedy makes the case for England’s prescription charge to be put on hold during the COVID-19 crisis

NHS England’s plan for well-meaning volunteers to deliver medicines for pharmacies puts patients’ lives at risk, says Mike Hewitson

Having NHS volunteers deliver medicines is not straightforward, so legal expert David Reissner suggests a statement for them to sign to ensure things run as smoothly as possible

The government must take action to ensure community pharmacies survive the COVID-19 pandemic, says contractor Stuart Gale

Pharmacists are war-weary from handling the impact of COVID-19 but their efforts may finally earn them recognition, says Laura Buckley

Pharmacies profiteering from the COVID-19 outbreak could face serious sanctions for unfair pricing, says solicitor Susan Hunneyball

Preparing a list of key phone numbers and limiting the sale of products like paracetamol are some of the ways pharmacy teams can combat the pressure of COVID-19, says contractor Reena Barai

COVID-19 means the government must reconsider pharmacy funding to help independent businesses tackle the crisis, NPA board member Olivier Picard says

Despite the insult of being called a “distributer of medicine”, C+D clinical editor Naimah Callachand says she will overcome her concerns to return to work in a pharmacy

Community pharmacists have stepped up to the front line in the war against COVID-19, C+D editor Beth Kennedy says

COVID-19 podcasts

Laura King, a clinical nurse specialist for children’s asthma, explains how poor asthma control can increase the risk of long-term conditions

Bernadette Brown was so desperate to get back to her pharmacy before lockdown that she travelled for four days and nights from a holiday in Mexico to reach it

Pharmacist Ade Williams explains the importance of risk assessments in the pharmacy to help better protect some staff from COVID-19 infection

Regan McCahill, president of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, discusses how the pre-registration year may differ post-pandemic

Dr Toni Hazell reveals what advice community pharmacists can give vulnerable patients who are not on the shielded list

Most pharmacies should not be at risk of being unable to dispense medicines after reaching their credit limit with wholesalers, according to Martin Sawer

AIMp's Leyla Hannbeck tells C+D that they have raised reports of pharmacy abuse to NHS England

"Thousands of pharmacies will be forced to close if they have to repay advance funding to the government", says contractor Olivier Picard.

What issues does the COVID-19 crisis pose for those who misuse drugs? C+D spoke to MPharm programme director Dr Amira Guirguis

There will be a second wave of unprecedented demand on community pharmacies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Avicenna chair Salim Jetha

”We need to safeguard ourselves as well as the general public”, says Dr Mahendra Patel about his experience working in a community pharmacy during the COVID-19 outbreak

How can pharmacy teams look after their mental health at home during the COVID-19 outbreak

Read more about COVID-19 on C+D’s hub.

7 Comments
Question: 
How is covid-19 affecting your pharmacy team?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I think there's only one important thing we all need to know about Covid. It's here to stay and we are almost all going to get it sooner or later. It ain't going away!

Sandhya Haria, Community pharmacist

I'm shocked that some pharmacies have not introduced social distancing measures within their premises! Crowds of vunerable patients waiting for their meds! It's crazy.
As a healthcare provider, we should be having controls within the pharmacy.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Also I've come across some independents happy not to adhere to social distancing in their shop because the competition (usually a multiple) have big queues and an hour wait (better still come back later on) and they can take their custom.  Patients are more than happy to go a crowded pharmacy because it's a quicker service. It's almost like some patients' are happy to social distance in circumstance that suits them, but as soon as they're in a rush or busy they're happy to take a risk.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Luckily most are set-up now, but it took a long time. A common theme of the UK's response to the pandemic according to the variety of news sources around the globe.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Do you think a 2 metre gap between you and the person in front in the queue is enough? You just step forward into what they've just breathed out anyway.  The only way to stop it in it's tracks is for everyone to not leave home for two weeks for any reason but of course that could never happen. It's out there now and all we can do is hope to keep some kind of a lid on it until most of us have had it or it mutates itself into something less dangerous while still preserving some semblance of a civilised way of life.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

That's true. It was my understanding that the whole idea of lockdown and social distancing was to protect the NHS so they can absorb the Covid patients influx and then give time to increase capacity. But these measures seem to be a way of life going forward. If it's always going to be around should we not let the virus run it's course? i.e. spread around the same way as we go about our normal daily life when there's the seasonal flu.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'm sure I saw at the start of lockdown a sort of wiggly graph where the rates were allowed to go back up again, semi lockdown re-imposed until it came down again and repeat, in order to keep infections within the capability of the NHS, but, given that the Nightingale hospitals have been largely empty, that hasn't happened at any point. It seems like policy has changed and no-one has told us. I'm beginning to think just let it go now. Life is screwed because the cure has proved worse than the disease. I've seen reports that say 80% of people are either asymptomatic or such a mild illness they barely know they have it, the death rate isn't outlandishly high, so why has there been such a huge response which has affected 100% of us?

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