Omicron “should be welcome” because of the extremely infectious variant. This could mean that Britain will no longer record thousands of Covid deaths every day, according experts. 

Despite cases skyrocketing to pandemic highs of over 200,000 because of the super-mutant strain — which has driven out deadlier rival variants — fatalities have stayed flat at around 110 since early December.

MailOnline analysis shows the UK’s case fatality rate — the proportion of confirmed infections that end in death — was dropping even before the variant took off. In spite of the increase in hospital admissions intensive care has not spiraled.

Only 0.15 percent of cases resulted in death at the end December, as compared with the highs of more than three per cent last year during the worst days of the second wave. This was when the Alpha variant was fully operational and the NHS hadn’t begun its vaccination drive. 

The government advised that rising case numbers would cause an unavoidable increase in hospital admissions this winter, which could result in as many as 6000 deaths per day.

But a host of studies have since claimed the variant, which was only detected in Britain in November but made up 90 per cent of all cases before Christmas, is intrinsically less severe than its predecessors because it replicates in the upper airways rather than the lungs — where it would do more damage. 

MailOnline was told by Professor David Livermore of the University of East Anglia that the strain’s rise could have been the most beneficial thing for the pandemic. This is in line with comments earlier made by Danish health professionals.

“With Omicron spreading over the past 3 weeks, cases recorded have increased from about 50,000 to around 200,000. This has not fed through into an increased death rate — and a rise would have been expected by now, if it was going to happen.

‘The divergence between case and death rates agrees perfectly with Omicron being highly transmissible but less lethal than earlier variants — exactly as asserted by doctors in South Africa who discovered it.

“It also supports studies done in Cambridge and Hong Kong that Omicron has been shown to be less effective in infecting lung cells, and to remain in the upper airways where it causes less severe harm.

Omicron, in all these ways is superior to other dangerous alternatives that followed it. Therefore its taking over should be embraced.

MailOnline analysis shows just 0.15 per cent of cases led to a death towards the end of December, compared to highs of over three per cent during the darkest days of last year's second wave when the Alpha variant was in full motion and the NHS had yet to embark on its vaccination drive. The rate is calculated by comparing average death numbers to average case numbers from two weeks earlier, which is roughly the amount of time it takes for the disease to take hold, experts say

MailOnline data shows that only 0.15 per cent died in December. That compares to the 3.3% peak during last year’s worst days, when the Alpha strain was fully developed and the NHS still hadn’t begun its vaccination drive. Experts say the rate can be calculated by comparing the average deaths to the average number of cases from the previous two weeks. This is approximately the time required for the disease’s spread.

Official data shows the number of people dying has barely changed across the UK over the last month, with fatalities dropping in the week up to December 31. Graph shows: Covid deaths by death date in the UK. More up to date death data by date reported is biased by reporting issues over the bank holiday weekends

According to data from the UK, death rates have not increased in the UK for the past month. Fatalities dropped by one percent during the week that ended December 31. Graph showing: Covid deaths according to death date in UK. You can find more up-to-date death data for the date you report. This bias is due to reporting problems over bank holidays weekends

The number of daily positive Covid tests recorded in England has exceeded 100,000 for nearly two weeks. However, the number of patients in hospital with the virus is a fraction of the level seen last winter, while deaths remain flat

In England, there have been nearly 100,000 positive Covid test every day for the past two weeks. The number of people in hospitals with this virus remains at a fraction the rate seen last winter. However, deaths are still low.

Grant Shapps, a Grant Shapps spokesperson for the NHS says it is not unusual for hospitals to experience winter crises. However, 24 NHS trusts have declared critical incidents. 

Twenty-four NHS trusts have now declared ‘critical incidents’ amid staffing shortages and rising Covid admissions — but ministers have downplayed the warnings saying it is not unusual for hospitals to face winter crises.

Grant Shapps said that 24 out of England’s 137 trusts — or 17.5 per cent of the entire health service — had signalled they may not be able to deliver critical care in the coming weeks.

The Transport Secretary, however, weighed in on the matter and stated to Sky News that it was not unusual for hospitals over winter to become critical due to things such as the flu pandemic.

Although the full list has not yet been released, it is known that some trusts have caused alarm, such as North East Ambulance Service and Dorset County Hospital.

Staff can be asked to take leave, or to rest on days for critical situations. If they raise the alarm they will receive assistance from local hospitals.

This comes just as MPs warn that the patient wait list in England has reached 6million and will likely double within three years due to the pressure on the NHS.

Boris Johnson stated yesterday, however that normal life may return by February. This is after yesterday’s six percent increase in cases. UK had 194,747 cases per day, up from 183,037 on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister has held his nerve in the face of the spiralling Omicron wave — unlike his counterparts in Scotland and Wales — and imposed no new curbs over the holidays, winning him praise from Tory MPs.

MailOnline’s analysis suggests the Covid fatality rate fell to as low as 0.14 per cent on December 28 — its lowest ever total — after dropping every day since November 18.

Experts say that the rate can be calculated by comparing the average number of deaths to the average cases from the previous two weeks. This is approximately the time required for the disease’s spread. 

It means the case-fatality rate — which is different to the infection-fatality rate, which will be even lower because not everyone who has the virus gets tested — was already dropping before the strain kicked off in Britain in mid December, suggesting vaccines have played a huge role in thwarting the virus.

MailOnline spoke to Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia. He said that while the Covid death rate in Britain has fallen in recent weeks, it could be because of delayed Christmas deaths reporting.

He stated that the Omicron fatality rate is lower than what we’ve seen in previous versions and may now be below 0.2%.

However, the numbers are slightly distorted by the increased testing. The number of tests performed per year has increased by approximately 245 percent. The level of testing in Britain reached its peak on January 4, at 2million, just a week before Christmas.

The majority of cases occurred in under-50s, who are less susceptible to the disease. The rates are only rising in London’s over-60s, indicating what might be in store for the rest of the country.

Experts predict that the trend will reverse with the decline in infections among the elderly and falling rates. 

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data also shows the number of people who died on New Year’s Eve — the latest date fatalities by death date is available for — fell to 103.

December death numbers were below 140, compared to November and October when they reached closer to 200. 

Data issues during bank holidays weekends have caused more recent death data to be unavailable. Yesterday, Britain saw 334 deaths within the first 28 days after a positive result. This is 486 percent more than last week. 

And Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures — which distinguish deaths caused by Covid from those where the virus was merely incidental — shows fatalities dropped for the sixth week in a row in the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve.   

Just 501 people were killed by the coronavirus — the fewest since August, according to the surveillance report. 

MailOnline spoke to Professor Livermore about the Omicron version. Its increased transmissibility helped eliminate more deadly variants including Delta and may help keep future ones out.

He said: ‘Because it is so transmissible, and because the vaccines — targeting the spike protein of the Wuhan variant — give only “mismatched” and brief protection against Omicron, most of us are going to catch it over the next few weeks and months.

“It will then act as an natural vaccine, or booster. And that, I believe — rather than through human efforts — is how the pandemic will end. This is how past respiratory pandemics have ended. 

“After that, we will all live in equilibrium with five of the common cold coronaviruses and not four as before.”

The proportion of beds occupied by patients who are primarily in hospital 'for' Covid, versus those who were admitted for something else and tested positive later, referred to as 'with' Covid. The data looks at (55 per cent). That suggests 45 per cent were not seriously ill with Covid, yet were counted in the official statistics. In the South East of England 66 per cent were primarily non-Covid, in the East of England it was 51 per cent and in London it was 48 per cent. Critics argue, however, that the figures are unreliable because they don't include discharges, which could skew the data. But they add to the growing trend

This is the ratio of patients admitted to hospital for Covid primarily compared with those admitted later and found positive. The data covers the week between December 21 and December 28, when were around 2,100 additional beds occupied by the virus in England — of which 1,150 were primary illness (55 per cent). This means that 45 percent of those who were not diagnosed with Covid were still included in official statistics. 66% of the South East of England were non-Covid. In London, it was 48% and 51% respectively. Critics say that the numbers are not reliable because they do not include discharges. This could lead to data skewing. They do however contribute to the increasing trend. 

Latest figures show that hospitals in England have actually had fewer beds occupied this winter than they did pre-Covid. An average of 89,097 general and acute beds were open each day in the week to December 26, of which 77,901 were occupied. But the NHS was looking after more hospital patients in the week to December 26 in 2019, 2018 and 2017

According to recent figures, hospitals in England had actually fewer beds this winter that they did before the introduction of Covid. In the week ending December 26, an average of 89.097 beds, including acute and general, were available each day, with 77.901 of these beds occupied. The NHS looked after more patients during the week of December 26, 2018, and 2017.

While Covid hospitalisations are rising quickly in England, they are still half of the level of last January and far fewer patients are needing ventilation

Although Covid hospitalisations in England are on the rise, they still represent half of what was last January. Also, ventilation is being used by far fewer patients than it was then.

According to data, at least 5,000 Covid patients in England are not primarily being treated for viruses. 

According to NHS statistics, as the Omicron variant of super-mild continues to inundate the country, as many as 5,000 Covid victims may have been admitted in hospitals in England.

Latest data shows  so-called ‘incidental’ cases — those who test positive after admission for something else, such as a broken leg — made up a third of coronavirus inpatient numbers on December 28.

The number of Covid patients in England was just 8.300 at that time, with only 2,750 not specifically receiving treatment for the virus (33%). 

More up-to-date statistics from the Government’s Covid dashboard show that, as of Wednesday, there were 15,600 beds occupied by people infected with the virus. 

Because the NHS only covers December 28, the breakdown of patients is backdated so it is unclear exactly how many are actually there for Covid. However, incidental cases account for at most 5,000 cases. This means that coronavirus sufferers aren’t suffering from the disease seriously.

Experts say there is reason to believe the share of incidentals will continue to rise as Omicron pushes England’s infection rates to record numbers, with one in 15 people estimated to have had Covid on New Year’s Eve.

In South Africa — ground zero of the Omicron outbreak — up to 60 per cent of Covid patients were not admitted primarily for the virus at the height of the crisis there. 

An independent analysis of NHS data showed that 45% of newly occupied beds by Covid patients during the last week of December was not solely due to illness with the virus. 

It comes as two dozen NHS trusts declared ‘critical incidents’ amid staggering staffing shortages caused by sky-high infection rates, indicating that they may be unable to provide vital care in the coming weeks. 

One in ten workers are off and 183,000 Brits are being sent into isolation every day on average, prompting calls for the isolation period to be cut to five days.

His comments echoed those made by Tyra Grove Krause — the chief epidemiologist at Denmark’s State Serum Institute — who said a study from the organisation found that the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron is half that seen with the Delta variant.

According to her, this gives Danish authorities hope that Covid’s pandemic could end in Denmark within two months.

“I believe we will achieve that within the next two-months, then I hope it will begin to subside. Then we can get back our normal lives,” she told Danish TV 2.

Omicron, despite early concerns that it could increase the severity of the pandemic because of its higher level of infection was a concern, Krause stated that Omicron may actually bring an end to curbs.

MailOnline received accurate descriptions by Professor Ian Jones of the University of Reading that the ultra-infectious version was a natural vaccine.

According to him, while all Covid varieties boost immunity, Omicron is highly transmissible but milder and helps boost immunity.

His reply was that if you had an infected version of the virus, your immunity would increase. “That moderate bit is what suits us, because it allows us to get immunity with less risk or without much.

He warned, however, against hosting a ‘chickenpox-style’ party where Omicron is being caught in an intentional attempt to get it. We need to keep Omicron away from people who might become very ill. 

He said, “You must be cautious here that it doesn’t extend to chickenpox parties as there will always been a vulnerable minority and encouraging infection puts them at danger.” 

Hopes of Omicron ushering in the end of the pandemic stage of Covid were sparked by a South African study into Covid death rates in the nation’s Omicron wave. The study showed that fatalities in Omicron surges were only 25% higher than those seen previously. 

Researchers examined records of 450 patients hospitalised in the City of Tshwane, in the ‘ground zero province of Gauteng, since the extremely-transmissible variant took off in the country. They had a survival rate of nearly four times that of the more than 4,000 people who were hospitalized earlier in the pandemic.  

The virus claimed the lives of just 4.5 Percent of the patients admitted to hospital with Covid within the last month. This is a comparison to the 21.3 percent that was recorded in the previous pandemic.  

The research was conducted by scientists from South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases. 

According to the International Journal of Infectious diseases, Omicron could signal the end of dark days of pandemics and may usher the beginning of the epidemic phase. 

Despite death numbers remaining unaffected by the current wave of cases across Britain, 24 hospital trusts have declared critical incidents because of staffing shortages and rising Covid admissions. 

Although the full list hasn’t been released, it includes North East Ambulance Service and Dorset County Hospital.

Staff can be asked to take leave, or to rest on days for critical situations. If they raise the alarm, help will come from local hospitals.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show Covid cases in Omicron hotspot London are now only going up in people aged 60 and above. Graph shows: The case rate per 100,000 in people aged 60 and above (yellow line) and under-60 (red line). Cases have started to drop in under-60s, though the rate still remains above the more vulnerable older age groups

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show Covid cases in Omicron hotspot London are now only going up in people aged 60 and above. Graph: This graph shows the case rate for 100,000 people over 60 (yellow) and below-60 (red). Although cases have begun to decline in the under-60s, the rate is still higher than the older and more vulnerable age groups.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show confirmed infections have fallen week-on-week on seven of the eight days leading up to December 30 - the latest date regional data is available for - in people aged 59 or below. Graph shows: The week-on-week rate of growth in average cases in under-60s (red line) and people aged 60 and above (yellow line). Cases are falling in under-60s and the rate of growth is slowing in over-60s

Figures from the UK Health Security Agency show that confirmed infections fell week-on-week in seven days up to December 30, the most recent date for which regional data are available. This is a result of people 59 years and older. Graph showing: Weekly rate of increase in the average case in people under 60 (red line), and those over 60 (yellow lines). Under-60s have fewer cases, while over-60s experience slower growth.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that 24 out of England’s 137 trusts — or 17.5 per cent of the entire health service — had signalled they may not be able to deliver critical care in the coming weeks.

He poured cold water on the alarms and said Sky News that it was not unusual for hospitals in winter to become critical due to things such as the flu pandemic.

The NHS is currently under severe pressure from the staffing crisis caused by Covid. One in ten doctors are now considered to be sick and there has been an increase in Covid hospitalisations.

GPs also have a shortage of staff, as Professor Martin Marshall of the Royal College of GPs warned that a ‘growing’ number of doctors and other personnel are being isolated by the virus. 

He spoke out about the pressure GPs are under and advised patients who have minor self-limiting issues to seek treatment online or visit pharmacies. 

Some doctors are calling for the reduction of self-isolation from five days to France or the USA, provided it’s backed by science. This will help staff get back to work faster.

However, scientists from the Government have cautioned against this move saying that it was ‘counterproductive’ and could result in infectious workers returning to the wards.