Boris Johnson suggested Tuesday that Britain can ‘ride it out’ of the Omicron waves without another lockdown. Is the NHS becoming hopelessly overwhelmed by rising Covid infections?

Answer to the first is yes. Both the first and second questions are answered no. However, if you listen to Labour or the BBC’s coverage of it, it would seem that we are under a horrible scourge. Draconian measures will be necessary to stop this.

Angela Rayner was Labour’s deputy leader yesterday. She stood in for Sir Keir, which had contracted Covid the second time.

She painted an awful picture in the Commons of what the NHS looked like, suggesting that she was willing to support more restrictions.

Can Britain 'ride out' the Omicron wave without another lockdown, as Boris Johnson suggested on Tuesday? Or is the NHS being hopelessly overwhelmed as Covid infection rates soar?

Boris Johnson suggested Tuesday that Britain can ‘ride it out’ of the Omicron waves without having to impose another lockdown. Is the NHS becoming hopelessly overwhelmed by rising Covid infections?

Meanwhile, the BBC Radio 4 flagship Today program was generating hysteria. 

In sepulchral tones, Nick Robinson told listeners that “the Prime Minister was forced yesterday to admit that the NHS is in great danger”.

Why was he forced to? He didn’t choose what to say.

Robinson interviewed an Oldham GP who was also a Labour councillor. 

The gentleman was unhappy that 17 Greater Manchester hospitals had put on hold non-urgent procedures. He agreed with Mr Robinson that there were not enough restrictions.

Robinson also interviewed a representative at the Road Haulage Association. This person provided an optimistic picture of things, saying that the problems caused by absences in staff ‘aren’t translating into the supply chain. 

The slightly disappointed interviewer said, “So not too big a problem now.”

I am constantly amazed by the figure Hugh Pym who is the BBC’s health editor, and it can be seen on BBC Television News. 

He would try to make it seem miserable even if he could find some positive news.

The present situation isn’t as dire as it was in the past 

Many people claim they are speaking on behalf of NHS nurses and managers.

It will. It is not difficult to see that hospital workers are feeling immense pressure at this time of the year. We should show our gratitude and respect for them. It doesn’t mean that you should lock them down or put other restrictions on their movements.

It is clear that the coming weeks will prove difficult. Some places will see an increase in infections, but not London where Omicron has apparently peaked. Many hospitals will feel more pressure. Death rates may rise.

It is likely that more stringent measures will be needed. Yesterday, while announcing an extremely welcome relaxation in Covid testing requirements yesterday, the PM reiterated to the Commons that the government doesn’t want the country to be’shutdown again’. It is our hope that he will stick to his guns.

The arguments made by critics of the government have two major flaws. 

They exaggerate their predicament with the NHS. In England, the occupancy rate of hospitals is almost identical to it five years ago. This was pre-Covid and during a long winter for health services.

Labour's Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, yesterday stood in for Sir Keir Starmer, infected with Covid for the second time

Angela Rayner was Labour’s deputy leader yesterday. She stood in for Sir Keir, which had contracted Covid again, for the second consecutive time.

Official statistics show that the UK had 17,276 Covid-infected patients on Tuesday, up from 30,775 just one year before. About 140,000 hospitals are in the UK.

This means that although the NHS is under pressure, and hospitals around Greater Manchester have given up on some urgent operations in recent years, it is still in a good place.

Indeed, Jeremy Hunt — a former health secretary and no great fan of the PM’s — was almost certainly right when he said yesterday in the Commons that admissions to hospital in London are no longer increasing.

True, it’s true that hospital beds have more than doubled in the UK over the last 30 years. Germany is home to more than triple the amount of hospital beds per head. The vaunted NHS was rash in getting rid beds and creating unnecessary restrictions.

Even with these limitations, however, the NHS still has a lot of potential. Angela Rayner wasn’t wrong to claim yesterday that the NHS ‘is struggling keep afloat’.

Labour’s claims that the NHS can no longer function correctly because it is underfunded consistently are hard to believe, considering that expenditures nearly doubled in real terms during the past 40 year and that this government has funnelled many extra billions into the NHS. There is an uncontrollable hunger in the NHS.

It isn’t at breaking point, that is all that can reasonably be said. It is essential that the Government continues to reject any false claim it makes. We will end up in lockdown.

The case against further restrictions has a second flaw. 

It seems that they have not noticed that our Covid mortality rate has been much lower in recent weeks than those of France and Spain.

Admittedly, yesterday’s figure of 334 fatalities for the previous 24 hours was high — the highest since March. However, it was almost certain that there were many more deaths than reported over the New Year holiday.

Over the last few weeks, we can see that the UK’s daily Covid death rate has been markedly lower than in several European countries.

One possible explanation, floated by Dr Clive Dix, a former head of the vaccine taskforce, is that the United Kingdom’s earlier reliance on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — preposterously vilified by the likes of President Macron of France — has given us an edge.

People who claim to speak on behalf of NHS managers, nurses, ambulance drivers and other hospital workers are swarming on to the airwaves to tell us the NHS will come apart at the seams unless the Government acts. Pictured: Ambulances outside Bradford Royal Infirmary hospital

Some people are trying to claim that they speak for NHS staff, nurses, and ambulance drivers, but the Government is not taking action. Pictured: A ambulance outside Bradford Royal Infirmary Hospital.

The other explanation is, I believe, that Britain has received significantly more booster jabs then France, Italy, or Germany. 

Although there should be nearly 9 million UK residents who have not had a booster this week, that number is still high. A booster is extremely protective and it’s a foolish decision to decline one.

It is clear that Britain’s booster program has been much more successful than most European countries. This must be partly responsible for our lower recent fatality rate.

In short, Mr Johnson’s evangelising of boosters, and his avoidance of lockdown measures, is succeeding — and will succeed all the more if a substantial number of those nine million step forward to be jabbed.

Some 100 Tory rebel MPs put steel in the spine of PM, knowing they will oppose restrictive measures. 

He must be commended for his resistance to the doomsayers within the Labour Party, in the scientific community (though there is notable exceptions), and on the BBC.

Boris Johnson will he stand firm? These will be tough weeks. It will be a great deal of pressure for him. It will still be a political victory if he is able to carry Omicron through the country, so the economy and society don’t suffer any more.