After modeling by the Government’s scientists advisers, it appears that England’s Covid cases are already flatlining. The third wave of Covid cases will shrink beginning next month, even without Plan B.
According to data from the Government’s Covid dashboard, the latest spike in infections peaked last week at just over 44,000 per day. Since then, they have fallen or plateaued.
Even if we look at when people actually took the test, rather that when they got their results, cases seem to have begun flattening last Wednesday.
While the figures are only based on a few days’ data, they are in line with some of the more optimistic projections from No10′ scientific advisory panel SAGE.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, SAGE, had cases drop to as low as 5,000 daily during winter thanks to modeling.
Scientists suggested that booster vaccines, natural immunity growing in children, and a decrease in classroom mixing during half-term break in October would bring down cases.
SAGE has been previously criticised for exaggerating the scale of the country’s outbreak. But Dr Simon Clarke from the University of Reading said that it looked like they ‘had high chances of being right’ this time.
MailOnline spoke to him, saying that while people have criticised the shortcomings in pessimistic models, they must also apply the same scepticism for optimistic models. But LSHTM’s team is very good at what it does.
Professor Paul Hunter, an Epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia said he trusted’ LSHTM. He added that ‘over the next few weeks we should start to see a substantial fall of cases followed by hospitalisations.
However, not all scientists who advise the Government agree. Many on SAGE are publicly lobbying for masks, working at home, and vaccine passports to protect against rising winter cases.
Downing St was forced to defend its decision not to revert to Plan B today after leaked Government documents showed delaying the contingency plans could cost the economy £18billion. The Treasury and Cabinet Office provided an estimate of the damage that would result from reverting back to working from home and wearing face masks.
However, a separate paper from Culture Department raised concerns that vaccine passports could be counter-productive’ and lead people to poorly ventilated bars.
After modelling by the Government’s scientists, Covid cases in England seem to be flatlining. The government’s scientific advisors predicted that the third wave of infections will shrink starting next month without Plan A. According to data from the Government’s Covid dashboard, the latest spike in infections peaked last Thursday at just over 44,000 per day. Since then, they have fallen or plateaued.
SAGE’s models are limited to England, but figures from No10’s Covid dashboard indicate that the UK’s infection rates are plateauing. Nationally, infections have fallen to just 36,000. Yesterday’s numbers were only 36,000.
LONDON SCHOOLS OF HYGIENE & TROPICAL MEDICINE – These charts show the difference between returning to a normal level in social mixing (bottom) and remaining cautious for a year (right). The impact this would have on infections, admissions, and deaths (left) The models show cases falling in both scenarios due to natural immunity and rising in spring (bottom), as vaccine protection is expected decrease.
SAGE’s models focus on England, but figures from No10’s Covid dashboard show that UK-wide infection rates are plateauing.
Nationally, infections appear to have peaked on Thursday at about 52,000, falling every day since to just 36,500 yesterday. The numbers are slightly lower on Mondays, and weekends, just like England, because of recording lags.
No10 has been able to ignore growing calls to it to revert back to Plan B. This would see mandatory masks and WFH guidance returns, as well as the introduction vaccine passports.
Despite the numbers, No10 was forced to defend its decision to hold off on Plan B today as leaked documents suggested delaying could cost the economy up to £18 billion.
The Treasury and the Cabinet Office’s coronavirus taskforce compiled papers detailing the potential cost of mandatory vaccination passports and mask wearing, as well as the return of work from at-home guidance.
Obtained by the Politico news website, the internal Treasury impact assessment suggests the measures lasting throughout winter until the end of March would cost the economy between £11billion and £18billion.
The Government insisted that there is no five-month timeline as it disagreed with the assumptions made in the document. It also maintained that Plan B is not currently necessary.
Although scientists believe that transmission will be greatest if you work from home, the leaked documents suggest that mandatory vaccination certification would have a moderate impact at large locations.
According to the assessment, the move for venues like nightclubs and music venues could reduce transmission at large events of between 40 and 45 percent and in wider communities by between 1 and 5%.
A spokesperson for the Government said that the presumptions raised here were false and did not reflect Government policy. The data does not currently show that Plan B is necessary – and there is no planned five-month timeline.’
Officially, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson stated that Plan B would only be purchased when ‘pressure on NHS is unsustainable’. He also defended the measures by saying that they allowed’venues of remaining open and continuing trading’.
He said, “We are confident that the Plan B measures taken together as a package will curb Covid cases while still striking that important balance of allowing some parts of the economy remain open that would otherwise face severe restrictions or even closing,” he added.
A separate impact assessment raised concerns about potential knock-on consequences of mandatory vaccine passports.
The Telegraph reported that a document from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), warned that the move could encourage people instead to go to poorly ventilated bars and be ‘counter-intuitive and possibly counter-productive’.
It also suggested that the turnover of venues hit by the move could drop between £345million and £2billion.
A DCMS spokesperson said that there was good evidence to suggest that certification would have an impact on infection rates. Additionally, it would avoid the need for capacity closures or caps.
“There is no evidence to suggest that businesses were affected by lower attendance when certification was used. Many venues already use this on entry throughout each year.
MailOnline was told by Professor Paul Hunter (left), an University of East Anglia epidemiologist, that he expects a “substantial fall” in cases over the next weeks, followed closely by hospitalisations, and deaths. And Cambridge University epidemiologist Dr Raghib Ali (right) told MailOnline he also expected Covid measurements to drop as people change their behaviour in response to rising infections, the vaccine programme and the build up of natural immunity
Professor Martin McKee, a public health expert, told MailOnline that he would be cautious about making arrangements for Christmas due to the’very high’ number of cases and new variant AY.4.2 which’seems to be more transmissible then Delta’. Professor Stephen Reicher (right), a member in the Independent Scientific Pandemic Insights group SPI-B told MailOnline that it is difficult to predict how many cases would occur. Therefore, it is important to take measures such as working from home or limiting contacts to help control rising infections.
Greg Parmley, chief executive of Live music industry body, said that the leak shows the move towards mandatory passport use ‘wouldn’t be a mistake.
He stated that these passports would have a devastating effect on the live music industry. However, certain aspects of the rollout would prove impractical and potentially hazardous.
Top experts question the need to increase restrictions now that the epidemic is flatlining. MailOnline’s Professor Hunter stated that he anticipates a’substantial, rapid fall’ in the epidemic within the next weeks, which would defeat the purpose of Plan A.
He stated that booster vaccines will boost immunity by half the population, and added: “The boosters are working better than we thought they would.”
Dr Raghib Ali, a Cambridge University epidemiologist, says that children who were responsible for the recent surge in cases will have received significant natural and jab-induced protection.
The half-term school holiday — which for many schools started today — will act as a mini firebreaker and bring down cases further, experts believe.
Dr Ali and Professor Hunter don’t believe that cases will plummet to as low at 5,000 per day due to the emergence of a new, more transmissible strain called Delta.
Yet other scientists have warned it is impossible to accurately predict how the outbreak will unfold and that Plan B measures — such as WFH guidance and face masks — should be brought back now to control rising infections just in case.
Professor Martin McKee, a public-health expert based at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said he would be cautious about making Christmas arrangements due to the ‘high’ number of patients and the emergence of the AY.4.2 variant, which appears’more transmissible that Delta’.
And Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the independent Scientific Pandemic Insights group SPI-B which feeds into SAGE, questioned the accuracy of his colleagues’ modelling.
MailOnline was told by him that making predictions about infection levels was a ‘notoriously inaccurate pastime. He said that efforts should be focused on what can actually be done to reduce cases.
Professor Reicher said the key ways of reducing infections are behavioural — increasing vaccine uptake, limiting contacts, including by working from home, increasing ventilation and ensuring infected people self-isolate.
He stated that it is necessary to communicate clearly and consistently about the need to reduce infections and how to do this.
‘Now the messaging is all over the place, often inaccurate, and even suggesting that infections don’t matter… at which point why do anything,’ he said.