Saturday, December 11, 2021

Coronavirus 59 Omicron part 2

In the fortnight since my first blog about Omicron we have learnt a little more and little of what we have learnt is good news. 

Firstly, let's dismiss the reports, based on wishful thinking rather than science, that this variant is 'milder'. Here's a sketch by Dr Natalie Dean that explains a quirk of the data. 

If it's not immediately obvious, read her explanation here.

Of course it might turn out to be milder, but we don't have the evidence for that and there's no particular reason why it should be. While uncertainty rules let's not base action on wishful thinking but stick to the precautionary principle.

Effectively, Omicron adds an extra pandemic to the Delta pandemic that has been producing some 40 to 50 thousand new covid cases per day. Delta has been spreading with an R close to 1 since the fateful 'Freedom Day' last July. Now we have a virus that appears to be doubling in less than three days, with an R closer to 4. Adding this to the underlying Delta, Professor Christina Pagel, at the Indie-SAGE briefing on Friday 10th December, presented this graph:
She points out its simplicity, but while all models are wrong, some can be useful. This graph shows that unless we take quick and decisive action to change our behaviour we are heading for a disaster on a similar scale to that seen at the start of this year.

Unfortunately, the UK Government has demonstrated, repeatedly, its inability to take swift and decisive action. It persists in ignoring the advice of those who know what to do, such as the scientists contributing to Indie-SAGE. Here's their latest report, spelling out just what should be done:
And to underline the urgency, here's a new paper, an unreviewed pre-print, as is the way of things these days, from the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine by Rosanna C. Barnard et al.,
"In all four main scenarios, we model a policy of compulsory mask wearing in shops and on public transport from 30th November 2021, as well as introducing “Plan B” measures from 12th December 2021. Under these control measures, our most optimistic scenario projects peak daily hospital admissions of 2,400 (95% projection interval: 1,700–3,600) in England occurring in January 2022. Our most pessimistic scenario projects peak hospital admissions of approximately twice the size of the January 2021 peak."


Blogger corneilius said...

spot on. precise. no words wasted. Thank you.

6:14 pm  

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