David Nabarro, the WHO's special envoy for Covid, has warned against comparing Covid to flu

David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid, has warned against comparing Covid to flu

The World Health Organization today warned against comparing Covid to flu – just days after the UK Government said it intended to treat the two viruses the same.

David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid, said the comparisons were irresponsible because they suggest ‘the virus has suddenly got incredibly weak’.

Sky News was informed by him that it can also evolve and create variants. We’ve seen many, but know of more. 

‘So quite honestly, we are not saying that this should be considered to be like flu or indeed like anything else — it’s a new virus, and we must go on treating it as though it is full of surprises, very nasty and rather cunning.’ 

He urged the leaders to “stay focused on their job” as we had only reached the “halfway mark” in the pandemic. 

There are parallels between influenza and coronavirus in the UK, now that Omicron has caused around the same amount of deaths as the bad flu season.    

Boris Johnson announced last week that he would lift Covid isolation rules. This highlighted the fact that those with flu are not legally required to quarantine. 

And Health Secretary Sajid Javid pointed to the UK’s falling case numbers and relatively low hospital rates as he said ‘we need to learn to live with Covid in the same way we have to live with flu’. 

When Dr Nabarro was asked about comparisons, he said to Sky News that he wondered what people making these predictions knew and not me or my colleagues at the WHO.

“You’ll see from the WHO that this is still an extremely dangerous virus. This is particularly true for those who aren’t vaccinated or haven’t been exposed before. 

As the UK saw its coronavirus numbers rise for the first-time in over two weeks, it was a warning to not be complacent.

Parallels between coronavirus and influenza are being drawn in the UK now that Omicron is causing around the same number of deaths as a bad flu season. The UK Health Security Agency estimates the number of flu deaths was around 15,000 in 2016/17, with about 300 people dying every day at the peak. In 2017/18, during the Aussie flu outbreak, a total of 22,000 people were killed by influenza, with in excess of 400 dying per day at the worst of the epidemic. But in 2018/19 just 4,000 were estimated to have died to the virus, with just tens of people dying per day at the peak

Omicron has caused around the same amount of flu-related deaths as the bad flu season in the UK. Now, parallels are being drawn between influenza and coronavirus. In the UK, the Health Security Agency estimated that flu-related deaths reached around 15,000 during 2016/17. There were approximately 300 victims who died every day at peak levels. The Australian flu epidemic of 2017-18 saw 22,000 deaths, and 400 people dying each day. In 2018/19, only 4,000 people were believed to have been affected by the virus. Only tens of thousands died per day during the peak.

On Sunday, another 74,799 positive test results were reported, which is a 5-percent increase over last week.

Since January 5, Omicron had sent daily infected to records, a record that reached more than 218,000. 

Coronavirus cases rise for the first-time in two weeks. 74,799 people catch virus 

 Britain’s Covid cases have risen with a total of 74,799 new cases reported today.

The Department of Health reported another case of 74,799 cases to the bosses today. This is an increase of 3,875 over last Sunday’s total cases. 

Official figures indicate that there were 75 reported deaths today, which is a decrease of 14% compared to last week’s 88 Covid deaths.

The increase marks the first time that the number of Covid cases have risen since January 4, 2008, when officials reported a 57% rise in the aftermath of the Christmas season.

Before today’s announcement, official statistics reported a 17-day drop in weekly cases. But, the decline has slowed down in recent days. Friday saw a mere four-percent decrease in case volumes. 

Latest vaccination statistics show that 19430 were administered as the first dose yesterday, while 42473 were also given.

The latest data show that the NHS has delivered 68.795 boosters. 

Yesterday saw 75 additional Covid deaths, which was a 14% decrease on the week before.

As the fourth wave peakes, there are currently 265 daily Covid deaths per day in England. This compares to 400 for flu in bad years.

But Dr Nabarro said it was ‘dangerous’ to compare Covid to flu and think that there will not cause future surges of the pandemic.

He told Sky News: ‘Governments have got to set the direction and not shy away from that.

“All governments around the world should not assume that people have noticed sudden changes in their data or that viruses became incredibly dangerous.” 

“All I want is for leaders around the globe to focus on keeping this virus under control, to prevent people getting infected and to make sure that they are prepared for any new surges.” 

Dr Nabarro however stated that the end was in sight.

The end is near, but what time will it take to reach there? We will face what kind of obstacles along the journey. These are questions we can’t answer, because the virus keeps bringing us surprises and challenges.

He continued, “It feels like we’re at the half-way point of a marathon. But we know that there’s an end. Fast runners get through it ahead.

“But we have still got a long, hard road ahead of us and it will be difficult.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was the WHO director general and said that the world is at a critical juncture in regards to the pandemic.

Dr Ghebreyesus encouraged countries to cooperate and share treatments and vaccines to end the pandemic’s acute phase.

He claimed that all tools are now available for the world to achieve this goal.

He stated that the Covid pandemic was now in its third year, and that we were at an important juncture.

“We have to work together in order to end the pandemic’s acute phase. It cannot continue in panicky and negligent mode. 

Boris Johnson, who indicated that he would treat Covid as flu-like last week, told MPs, “There will soon be a time when it is possible to remove the legal obligation to self isolate altogether. Just like we do not place any legal obligations to isolate people with flu.

“Covid will become endemic and we need to replace all legal requirements with guidance and advice, reminding people living with this virus that they should be cautious and respectful of other persons.

Sajid Javid from Health said, “We need to learn how to live with Covid-19.”

Sky News was informed by him that flu can also cause death. In a bad year, you could lose around 20,000 people to the flu. However, we do not shut down the country or put many restrictions in place. Our lives must continue as normal with appropriate, sensible and proportionate steps.