As experts warn that the Omicron super-mutant variant of Christmas freedoms is rapidly spreading in Britain, there have been fresh doubts.
Eminent epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector claimed infections of the highly evolved variant were doubling every two days and that there were up to 2,000 cases already — five times more than the official count.
King’s College London’s scientist who oversees the largest Omicron-symptom-tracking program in the country, has estimated that Britain will soon have more Omicron patients than any other African nation at the epicenter of this new epidemic.
Dr Jeffrey Barrett, head of Covid surveillance at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said Omicron was likely to become the UK dominant strain ‘within a matter of weeks’ rather than months like initially hoped.
Scientists predicted just yesterday that it would take until mid-January for Omicron to outpace Delta but Monday saw the biggest single day jump in cases of the mutant virus yet. Omicron has been confirmed to have infected a further 90 people within the last 24 hours.
Dr. Barrett stated that he believes we can now state that the variant of Delta is spreading more rapidly in the UK than it was at the time. This, I believe, is something that wasn’t clear until recently. “I am quite certain that this variant will take over (Delta) in just a matter weeks.
Dominic Raab claimed today that ministers are not seeking to impose tougher Christmas curbs or work from home policies, nor vaccine passports, despite Omicron’s sharp rise. According to BBC Radio 4, ‘We don’t believe Plan B is necessary,’ he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today show. ‘Why? The success of our vaccine program.
Mr Raab was more definitive than Boris Johnson who yesterday refused to rule out tightening restrictions over the festive period, merely insisting that Christmas will be ‘better’ than last year.
Scientists anticipate booster jabs providing high protection against Omicron disease and death.
No10 revealed last week it will increase the number of booster jabs to 500,000 per day, and provide a third dose for all 53million British adults before the beginning of January. This is to guard against any incoming waves.
But the ‘turbocharged’ campaign already appears to be stalling with just 290,000 delivered across Britain. Each day, an average of 378,000 doses are given.
There are approximately 46,000 Covid cases per day in Britain. Data from Covid Genomics UK Consortium suggests that the new strain may be behind about one-third of those 66, which is 1.4 percent.
Scientists are afraid of this image, which prompted UK ministers to boost the UK’s vaccine rollout. It also saw the return of English mask mandates. The graphic details Omicron’s super-mutant Omicron variant and its spike protein mutations, which experts believe will make it more infectious and resistant to vaccines. This graphic was released by the nation’s leading variant monitoring team. It also shows how the strain is more advanced than the Delta strain. There are nearly five times the number of modifications to the spike.
Omicron, according to some scientists, could cause a tsunami of hospital admissions that is comparable with January 2021’s peak.
It appears that the virus can infect ex-Covid patients easily and UK Government experts believe it will make vaccines 40% less effective at stopping infection.
Omicron could infect more people than it can, according to experts. Even if only a few need hospitalisations are possible.
Asked whether Omicron could infect more people but make fewer people sick, Professor Spector told BBC Breakfast: ‘If early reports pan out – we don’t absolutely know this, we’ve got hardly any data in this country where we have high rates of vaccination – but if we assume that it is not more severe and possibly milder than Delta, but it’s much more transmissible…
It means people who get the vaccine in large numbers will likely pass it on twice as fast than those who have it individually. This is good news for each individual, as we see fewer cases of the disease going to hospitals. Partly this can be attributed to our high vaccine rates.
However, this does not mean that you won’t get any more problems or deaths as almost everybody is either infected again or has been re-infected.
“And this is what it means for the whole country, but for each individual, it can be worse news, but for them all, it’s better. There is absolutely no excuse for complacency.
Since Omicron alerted the rest of the world on November 24, there has been an explosive rise in South African Covid infection rates.
Since Omicron’s discovery, South Africa has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases. This month the country saw 358 new cases per day, as opposed to 6,381 currently registered. Although the daily rate is lower than Tuesday’s, this is probably due to the low number of people who were screened yesterday. Only 24,159 people were able to test. The positivity rate — the proportion of all tests conducted that are confirmed Covid cases — rose to a record 26.4 per cent
One hundred and fifty-five South Africans have been hospitalized with the virus. This is an increase of 121.5 percentage from the 79 who were admitted to the hospital on Monday. In a single week, there are 3,517 people in hospitals with the virus. This is an increase of 51.1 percentage. The graph below shows the weekly Covid hospitalisations
In the past 24 hours there were 6,381 Covid cases, an increase of 180 percent in one week. While this is lower than the 11,000 yesterday, there were still tens and thousands more tests.
Professor Spector of the Covid ZOEsymptom study stated that the UK may have Omicron in less than 10 days. This is contrary to the belief held by some other countries.
He said: “The official estimates are approximately 350 Omicron cases. However, because current testing is missing many of them, I’d guess that it’s at least 1,000-2,000 at this moment.
‘And we are expecting this to be doubling about every two days at the moment, so if you do your maths – say assumed it’s 1,000 at the moment, and you think it’s going to be doubling every two days, you can see that those numbers are going to be pretty (high) certainly in about 10 days time.’
Dominic Raab (Deputy Prime Minister) ruled out further Christmas restraints as he celebrated the success of Britain’s vaccination program in overcoming the Omicron crisis.
According to him, Today’s program consists of a series of interviews in which he stated that ‘We are doing all that is possible to address the risks that we face and that it’s done so in a proportionate manner that does not create additional risks or other challenges.
He said, “We don’t believe Plan B is necessary.” Why? It’s because of the effectiveness of the vaccine program. We’ve got 118 million doses dispensed.’
Director of Covid-19, Dr Barrett at the Wellcome Institute said that Omicron still has many unanswered questions that would help determine the need for more curbs.
Today, he said: “The most critical question is obviously how many cases which are likely to be large will eventually lead to serious disease?”
“And many people, including Dr Fauci (chief Medical Advisor to the US President), have hypothesized that this variant might be milder or less likely than other variants.
“I think that what we have so far seen in South Africa is compatible with that. However, it is too soon to tell. This variant is capable of infecting people who are either vaccinated, or were previously infected.
“We know that breakthrough or second infections in vaccinated people tend to be milder. Omicron can cause severe infections in people with mild to moderate immunity. However, we don’t yet know if Omicron will be more severe than Delta.
Doctors in South Africa have insisted that most patients suffer only mild illness, with the US’ top Covid expert Dr Anthony Fauci claiming yesterday it ‘doesn’t look like there’s a great degree of severity to it’.
British scientists have warned, however, against the notion that it’s a weaker strain. They warn that its ability to infect more people could cause significant problems for the NHS.
One mathematical modeller predicted there could be up to 3,000 hospital admissions per day in the UK in January if Omicron takes off domestically — compared to the 4,000 per day at the peak last year.
Jeffrey Barrett reiterated his belief that the strain could be more severe than previously thought, but it could still pose a serious threat to the NHS.
“Even though it’s only a tiny fraction of the total, that can still lead to problems.
“It has a series of mutations in it genome that we have seen previously, but others we don’t know about. These make it bind to cells very tight to infect human cells.
“This is likely to help it transmit, and it also has mutations that can be found in many of its positions. These are the locations where antibodies we create from vaccines, for instance latch onto the virus.
“And so, because these have been modified, it is highly probable that this virus can be less effectively neutralised with vaccines.
“Again we’ll be seeing that with some sort of laboratory data soon, but the speed it’s moving through both vaccinated nations and countries with lots of past infection such as South Africa strongly suggest that it could evade some immunity.”
The attack came just as Theresa May, former prime minister, criticized the Government’s response to Omicron. She accused ministers in putting businesses at stake by “stopping and beginning sectors of our economy”
Last night in the Commons, Mrs May stated that Omicron seemed to cause less severe illness than other varieties and that the government should be learning to live with Covid.
Her conclusion was that an annual vaccination is the best solution, rather than “stopping and beginning” the economy. This will lead to businesses going under and job losses.