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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Covid: Omicron hospital admissions could reach 1,000 a day – scientific advisers

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Hospital admissions from the Omicron variant may reach at least 1,000 a day in England by the end of the year without extra restrictions being put in place, government advisers have said.

The figures are contained in leaked minutes from a meeting of the government’s scientific advisers held on Tuesday, which the BBC obtained.

According to them, the overall number of hospitalizations is still unknown.

However, an immediate response is required to reduce spread and pressure on the NHS.

In England, approximately 680 people are admitted to hospital each day with the delta variant (latest seven-day average). At the height of the previous winter wave of coronavirus, hospitals in England admitted 3,811 people infected with the virus per day.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is comprised of hundreds of scientists who advise the government on how to respond to the pandemic in the United Kingdom.

‘Consider urgent response’

“With the speed of growth seen, decision makers will need to consider response measures urgently to reduce transmission if the goal is to reduce the likelihood of unsustainable pressure on the NHS,” according to the minutes of their most recent meeting, seen by the BBC.

According to the researchers, Omicron is “highly likely” to account for the majority of new coronavirus infections in the UK within “a few weeks.”

They also claim that without new rules to slow the spread of rising infections, the peak of the wave is “highly likely to be higher” than 1,000-2,000 Omicron hospital admissions per day.

What isn’t clear yet is whether Omicron will replace infections caused by the older Delta variant or if both variants will spread concurrently, at least in the short term.

According to scientists, this will depend on the extent to which they infect different groups or cohorts of people, which is currently unknown.

Clear messaging

The minutes go on to say: “Evidence suggests that measures could be reintroduced with expectation of a similar level of adherence as has been seen in the past. Adherence is likely to be higher if messaging and policy have clear rationales and are consistent.”

The advisers also say:

  • The number of omicron infections in UK is now increasing rapidly, with evidence of community transmission, and hospital admissions from Omicron should be expected to follow soon
  • Taking measures which slow or delay the wave if infections would allow more time for vaccination including ensuring increasing coverage and boosting with existing vaccines
  • Vaccine and immune effectiveness against severe disease is likely to remain higher than protection against infection
  • With the speed of growth seen, decision makers will need to consider response measures urgently to reduce transmission if the aim is to reduce the likelihood of unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • A modest reduction in severity of disease from Omicron would not avert high numbers of hospitalisations if growth rates remain high
  • Given the rapid increase, decision makers will need to consider urgently which measures to introduce to slow the growth of infections if the aim is to reduce the likelihood of unsustainable pressure on the NHS
SourceBBC
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