Should we worry about the Omicron mutation?
The government seems to be worrying, although quite a few people think that this is a diversion to get attention away from the sleaze and lies that they are currently mired in.
The variant seems to be coming from South Africa. It was first detected on November 9th. Cases of Covid (all recorded variants) reached 2000 per day by November 29th. They had reached 10,000 per day by December 5th – so a factor of 5 increase in 6 days.
In the previous (third) wave the 2000 and 10,000 dates were April 17th and June 19th. So the third wave took 32 days.
The second wave took 33 days and the first wave took 35 days.
So it obviously spreads a lot faster than previous variants.
The third wave went from May 4th to October 4th. Mortality was about 2.5%. Most of the the country were unvaccinated. In the UK, before the vaccines, mortality was around 3%, which is comparable.
Death rates generally lag infection rated by around 18 days. 18 days ago, on 23rd November cases per day were only 674, so at 2.5% mortality we would only expect around 18 deaths per day today. We should see in the next week or so if the mortality rate is any different to the previous waves.
There is not a like for like comparison with the UK as far fewer have been vaccinated in South Africa. But the vaccinations offer less protection against this variant. Also apparently the vaccines lose their effectiveness after around 6 months.
Six months ago about 60% of the population had been double jabbed. Now about 40% have had their booster jab. So 20% of the population will have had vaccinations which are “wearing out”. If the real loss in effectiveness really happens in less than six month then the situation is worse.
To reach the horrendous hospitalisation and death rates of last winter, cases would need to be 10 times higher than then. It could happen! The UK has never experienced spreads in the virus that come close to what South Africa is experiencing now.
So yes, we should be worried.
Update 13th Dec
The first cases of Omicron in the UK were found on 27th November.
The first hospitalisations were announced on 12th December
The first death was announced on 13th December
Cases are rising at 50% per day. This is considerably faster than the growth in South Africa
NHS England returns to its highest level of emergency preparedness: Level 4 National Incident.
The government are still keeping us on Plan B.