Scientists say stricter restrictions could help prevent 25,000 to 75,000 deaths from Omicron

Experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who are also part of the Scientific Group for Pandemic Influenza Modeling (SPI-M) or the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), used experimental data to see how Omicron could broadcast as the country approaches year 2022.

Even in the most optimistic scenario (low omicron immunity from vaccines and high efficacy from booster vaccines), a wave of infections is expected to result in a peak of more than 2,000 daily hospital admissions, with 175,000 hospitalizations and 24,700 deaths between December 1 This year and April 30, 2022.

This is the case if no additional control measures are implemented in addition to the existing Plan B provided by the Government of England.

The team said wearing face masks, working from home and booster shots may not be enough, and they projected a peak in daily hospital admissions at 2,400 in January.

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In this scenario, the implementation of control measures in early 2022, such as restrictions on indoor hospitality, the closure of some places of entertainment and restrictions on the number of people who can gather in one place, will be sufficient to significantly control the wave, reducing hospitalizations in the country. 53,000 and died by 7,600.

The most pessimistic scenario observed by the designers (high immune escape from vaccines and low efficacy of boosters) predicts a wave of infections that would likely lead to a rise in hospital admissions about twice the peak observed in January 2021, if not additional control measures are taken.

This could cause 492,000 people to be hospitalized and 74,800 deaths, according to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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In this scenario, the team estimates that more stringent measures may be needed to keep the maximum number of hospital admissions below the January 2021 peak.

Scientists assumed that Omicron causes the same disease severity as Delta, but they have not analyzed the effect of measures such as population testing to control its spread.

In their article, they said: “These findings indicate that Omicron has the potential to cause significant increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in populations with high levels of immunity, including England.

“Additional non-pharmacological interventions may need to be reintroduced to prevent hospitalizations from exceeding levels seen in England during the previous peak in winter 2020-2021.”

Dr Rosanna Barnard, LSHTM’s Center for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases, who co-led the research, said: “More data over the next several weeks will enhance our understanding of omicron and its consequences for transmission in England.

However, these early predictions help guide our understanding of the potential future in a rapidly evolving setting.

“In our most optimistic scenario, the impact of Omicron will be reduced in early 2022 through light control measures, such as working from home.

“However, our most pessimistic scenario suggests that we may have to put up with stricter restrictions to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed.”

“The use of masks, social distancing and reinforcement strikes are vital, but they may not be enough.

“No one wants to put up with another lockdown, but measures of last resort may be needed to protect healthcare services if Omicron has a significant level of immune leakage or higher transmissibility compared to Delta.

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“It is critical that decision makers take into account the broader social impact of these measures, not just epidemiology.”

“These are preliminary estimates, but they suggest that in general Omicron is rapidly outperforming Delta in vaccine evasion by a significant degree,” said Dr. Nick Davies of CMMID, who co-led the new study.

“The enhanced program will significantly reduce Omicron’s impact on England,” he told a news briefing.

Dr Davies added that it was difficult to predict the true level of protection provided by two doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer, and urged people to get boosters.

The scientists made hypotheses about omicron levels of transmissibility and immune escape using data for “S” gene target failure (SGTF) data from cases in England.

These are potentially Omicron cases because SGTF occurs with Omicron but not with the Delta variant.

For the two immune escape scenarios, the team estimated that the Omicron variant was 10% less transmissible than the Delta variant and 35% more transmissible than Delta.

Several experts have already said that Omicron is more portable and expect it to quickly overtake Delta as the dominant alternative.

Earlier, Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases, said Omicron is spreading so quickly that it is “highly likely” that people will know someone with Covid-19 unless they are “living the life of a hermit.”

The University of Edinburgh academic also warned that “a lot of people” could end up in hospital even if the coronavirus mutation was shown to cause milder symptoms than the delta variant.

Professor Riley told BBC Radio 4: “Omicron is spreading so fast that I think, unless you’re living the life of a hermit, you’re very likely to find it in the next few weeks.

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“I don’t think anyone should think that they won’t get caught, I think the situation has changed.”

She added, “There’s a big question regarding this, is it softer?” I think it is very dangerous to compare data from South Africa, for example, with the UK.

“Even if it’s milder and so a smaller percentage of infected people end up in hospital, because a lot of people are going to come across this virus, even a small percentage of a lot of people is a lot of people in hospital.” . «

On Friday, an analysis by the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines offer “significantly lower” levels of protection against symptomatic omicron infection than Delta.

But the UKHSA said a booster dose offered 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron, as they urged people to receive their boosters.

The findings come as daily Covid-19 cases are at their highest level in nearly a year and UKHSA has predicted that if current trends continue, the UK will surpass 1 million infections by the end of the month.

10 argued that there were “no plans” to proceed with the proceedings in England, amid reports that Plan C proposals, with stricter rules, are in the works.

Terry Alexander

"Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst."

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