Sajid Javid, his health advisors, were accused today of scare-mongering. They clarified that the gloomy models did estimate that up to 200,000 Britons might be infected every day.
The Health Secretary told MPs last night that Covid-related infections per day had exceeded the 200,000 mark.
His comments in a statement about Omicron’s threat prompted immediate confusion as to whether his remarks were referring to the entire virus or just one super-mutant variant.
The Telegraph was informed last night by Department of Health officials that Mr. Javid had misunderstood Omicron case numbers to be 200,000 per hour.
Today, the UK Health Security Agency released the mathematics used to support the shocking estimate. According to the team’s calculations, today’s death would amount to around 300,000.
Today, experts questioned this pessimistic prediction. In fact, one of America’s leading statisticians called it into question.
MailOnline was informed by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter from Cambridge: “To reach the number of 200,000 they would have to assume that the doubling takes 1.75 days or that the starting point is higher.
“It’s quite frustrating to say the least that these high-profile numbers and astonishing amounts are made without providing any public justification for their existence.”
Karol Sikora (consultant oncologist and professor of medicine) added criticism by claiming that the Government had deliberately “scaremongered” the population to get booster jabs.
‘It’s alarmist and all part of a deliberate PR ploy to get people the booster,’ he said.
‘It’s not a bad idea to get the booster, but you could see yesterday the system creaked under the pressure.’
He said that the Omicron infection rate of 200,000 per day was deliberately optimistic.
‘Virologists and the infectious disease guys thrive on bad news about it because they become important and so it’s in their interest to say there will be 200,000 infected a day.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if this was worse than it was last time.”
Dr Simon Kolstoe, an expert in evidence-based healthcare at the University of Portsmouth, told MailOnline Covid modelling is ‘complex’ and the numbers shared by officials should be ‘based on evidence’.
He said, “Similarly estimates of doubling rates are exactly that – estimates. There are many factors that affect how fast a virus spreads.
“What’s clear is that Omicron poses a threat to the NHS. It is essential that everyone get vaccinated if they want to prevent further attacks.
Yesterday, Mr Javid informed MPs that there are currently 4,713 cases confirmed of Omicron in the UK.
According to the UKHSA, there are currently around 200 000 infections per day.
“Omicron is more than 20% of all cases in England. However, it has already risen to 44% in London and will soon be the most popular Covid variant.
It seems that Mr Javid was talking about overall Covid infections, not Omicron-related, when he actually said 200,000 per day.
The Telegraph learned last night from The Telegraph that Omicron cases were indeed directly addressed by the Health Secretary in this statement.
The UKHSA has clarified today that the figure of 200 000 is based off data from the Office of National Statistics. It conducts thousands of random tests per week.
Its data from November 21 — the week that Omicron was first spotted in the UK — allowed them to estimate there were about 78,000 Delta infections on December 7.
They claim that this figure allowed them to calculate the number of Omicron infection per day on December 7.
It is assumed that this variant would make up about 20% of all cases at the time.
UKHSA then assumed that Omicron cases doubled in two days. This meant that approximately 207,000 people had been infected each day.
Javid, when asked about the accuracy of today’s figures, admitted that previous Covid forecasts were inaccurate but he couldn’t assume they were incorrect.
‘With previous variants of Covid we have seen forecasts and estimates whether it’s from academics or think tanks and others that have been completely off the mark,’ he said.
‘Just because forecasts in the past… have been wrong it doesn’t mean to say every estimate or forecast is always wrong.’
Omicron modeling by the Government was questioned after allegations of a lack in transparency about the deaths and hospitalisations that were attributed to this variant.
Boris Johnson is being pressed to clarify the facts surrounding Britain’s Omicron-related deaths, and 10 hospitalizations. This comes after Johnson received warnings from the public that they may have caused panic.
Yesterday’s Prime Minister confirmed the death of a patient after he tested positive for the variant.
However, he did not give any further details about the death, like the age of the victim, their condition or whether Covid is the cause. The health authorities have declined to disclose any more information.
This graph illustrates how Britain’s vaccination drive progresses. The September booster drive started in September but there was still a delay. This is something that the opposition parties have already condemned as putting the country at unneeded risk.
It isn’t the first time that the Government has been question about its Covid data presentation and forecasting of cases during the pandemic.
Britain’s data watchdog The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), criticized the Government for not being transparent about the data that was used to justify the second winter national lockdown. This could have the potential to confuse the public and weaken confidence.
This data, included a now infamous chart presented by No 10’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, suggesting there could be a shocking 4,000 deaths per day by December 20 if nothing was done.
The figures were taken from an old model that assumed 1,000 deaths per day at the beginning of November.
The daily average of 200 was actually lower, so the forecast was only five times as accurate.
The body also criticized Matt Hancock, former Health Secretary, for misleading the public about Covid testing at the peak of last year’s pandemic.
While data masterclasses are a necessity, the officials who were interviewed by the MPs seemed positive about the way the government managed data throughout the pandemic.
They were most critical of ministers who quoted data not publicly available, which officials claimed should be avoided in the interest of transparency.
In other Covid news Omicron has become dominant in London barely two weeks after it was first detected, health chiefs revealed today.
Kevin Fenton was the capital’s director for public health. Data suggests that the super-strain is already responsible at least one of every two new infections, an increase from the 44 percent just yesterday.
After South Africa raised concerns on November 24, London became the nation’s main transport hub. London was quickly made England’s Omicron epicenter. The idea is believed to be seeded by British travellers who flew into London.
Since January, when strict curbs were put in place in capital, covid cases have reached their highest point. Hospitalisations have increased by 50 to 140 per day and the average number of admissions to the city’s hospitals has risen to 140. The death rate is flat, but fatalities can rise up to one month after a person falls seriously ill.
Omicron has been behind in five of the national cases, but Omicron will surpass Delta before next year. Delta took almost two months for the Alpha variant to be taken over by Omicron.
Below are maps showing areas where Omicron Covid variants have been detected in England during the weeks from November 20 (left) to December 4. (right). The yellow areas where this variant was detected have not been coloured. The graph shows the progression of this variant from one locale authority to nearly half of the country. It has also been shown that areas of darker colour have seen more cases.
London Mayor’s spokesperson said today that the mayor would support the controversial London lockdown. He stated it was better not to wait for the virus spiraling out of control and to “act now” rather than waiting.
However, Tory members urged ministers not to reduce people’s lives but instead to focus on strong vaccine protection and a booster program.
Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency — which monitors variants — showed Omicron was behind 44.5 per cent of cases in the capital up to December 11.
Nicola Sturgeon told Scots today that they cannot mix within groups greater than three households. She also said that Omicron numbers were increasing, so social distancing is to be seen in bars and shops.
It comes as a study in South Africa today confirmed Omicron is causing milder disease than Delta, in patients in the epicentre of the new Covid variant.
The 78,000 Omicron case records that were reviewed by Omicron officials in the month of September found no evidence.he risk of hospitalisation was a fifth lower than with Delta and 29 per cent lower than the original virus.
It is believed that this ultra-infectious variant of the virus may be weaker than other strains. This has been confirmed by doctors in South Africa for weeks.
But the reduction in severity is probably not solely down to Omicron being intrinsically milder, according to the South African Medical Research Council which led the analysis.
The majority of South Africans who are free of Covid have made significant improvements. In addition, around 70% of the population has recovered.
This discovery will increase optimism that Omicron wave in the UK won’t be as intense than other peaks, despite it having a denser and older population.
A study by Pfizer found that two doses provided 70 percent protection from Omicron-related hospitalizations or deaths, as opposed to 93% for Delta.