Omicron warning: Boosters and Plan B might not be enough to beat Covid this winter
Kay Burley grills Raab on comment about Omicron ‘deaths’
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With Omicron predicted to double every two days, could England be heading towards another lockdown? Modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, released over the weekend, shows concerning results. Including scenarios about how effective Omicron is at evading immunity, and how well boosters can build immunity, the modelling leans towards a more dark picture for this winter. Assuming that Plan B remains in place, and 500,000 new Covid booster jabs are administered daily, the modelling predicts that there could be up to 6,000 hospital admissions daily.
To compare, there were around 4,000 hospital admissions at the January 2021 peak, when the country was already in lockdown.
Commenting on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s modelling is Unherd’s Tom Chivers.
Chivers said: “It takes at least a week for boosters to have a significant effect on your immunity, and for some people more like two.
“Even if we started vaccinating a million people a day from tomorrow, the impact of that wouldn’t be felt until around Christmas.”
In answer to whether Chivers believes the booster vaccination programme will make much of a difference to coronavirus cases amidst winter, he replied: “I doubt it.”
The modelling prediction of 6,000 daily hospitalisations is considered the “most pessimistic scenario” where no further restrictions take place.
Factors included in this prediction include the virus having a high immune escape and the boosters showing a lowered effectiveness.
The “most optimistic scenario” paints a different picture, where there is a low immune escape of Omicron and a high effectiveness of boosters.
In such a scenario, there could be a peak of over 2,000 daily hospitalisation.
Furthermore, there would be a predicted 24,700 deaths between December 1 to April 30, 2022.
These would be “if no additional control measures are implemented” aside from Plan B policy in England.
The researchers stated such control measures early in 2022 would be “sufficient to substantially control this wave”.
Such measures include restrictions on indoor hospitality, closure of some entertainment venues, and restriction on gathering sizes.
Dr Rosanna Barnard, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-led the research commented on the findings.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about the characteristics of Omicron, and whether Omicron in England will follow the same course as it has in South Africa.
“More data over the next few weeks will strengthen our knowledge on Omicron and the consequences of this on transmission in England.
“However, these early projections help guide our understanding about potential futures in a rapidly evolving situation.
“Our most pessimistic scenario suggests that we may have to endure more stringent restrictions to ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed.”
It must be noted that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine modelling is yet to be peer-reviewed.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The best way to get your vaccine is by booking online or by calling 119 – please do keep checking availability as we load more appointments onto the system every day.”
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