Omicron variant to become ‘dominant strain’ says professor
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Professor Christina Pagel has warned that cases of Omicron have been growing at “25 percent a day” in South Africa over the last few weeks. The health data expert says England is now facing a similar situation. Prof Pagel said that while boosters may slow down the spread and vaccines reduce severe illness, we could still see “a very large number” of cases.
She also warned that cases of the Delta variant are currently rising.
Posting on Twitter, Prof Pagel said: “Sajid Javid said 276 sequenced cases of Omicron in England to date – all would likely have been infected before December 1.
“There will be more than the sequenced cases. I’ve assumed 200 new daily cases of Omicron on December 1 and 25 percent daily growth.
“For Delta, I’ve been very conservative and assumed zero percent growth.”
Sharing a graph of her finding, Prof Pagel forecasted 90,000 cases daily in Covid cases before Christmas Day.
But then, she said, “things get rapidly much worse,” as the expert predicted cases to begin to double every three to four days “leading to well over 100,000 cases a day”.
She added: “Even if vaccines blunt much of the impact the sheer numbers could cause major problems.”
It’s important to note the prediction assumes no changes in behaviour or measures introduced.
Prof Pagel said that “if people work from home, socialise less, wear better masks more often, all of it would slow it down and at this stage this makes a big difference”.
Modelling shows that Omicron cases would not reach beyond 10,000 cases with this approach.
The expert concluded: “This is a toy projection based on daily growth rates. Reality is far more complicated, with differential immunity at different ages to Delta & Omicron, different behaviours, school holidays approaching etc.
“So take this mainly as an illustration of expected growth but over the last five months, we’ve got used to things not doubling quickly.
“We’re now back in three-four day doubling territory. That means decisions cannot wait for lots more evidence.”
Another 90 cases of the new Omicron COVID variant were reported in the UK on Monday, taking the total to 336.
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The UK Health Security Agency said 64 of the latest cases were in England, 23 in Scotland and three were identified in Wales.
There have been no Omicron cases reported in Northern Ireland so far.
A total of 51,459 COVID-19 cases were reported in the UK yesterday, taking the total number of coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began to 145,646.
But Mr Javid said none of the 36 people infected with Omicron in the UK have been admitted to hospital so far.
Asked about the matter in the Commons, Mr Javid said: “The number of confirmed cases in the UK is 336 – they are all by definition infected.
“Some may be asymptomatic, others will be feeling ill. None of them, so far, as far as I am aware, have been hospitalised.”
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