It looks like the daily hospitalisations in South Africa peaked on the 11th December. Which is odd as the daily new cases did not peak until the 17th December. My guess is that this says more about South Africa’s data reporting than it says about the data.
What follows is an attempt to analyse the data given on the governments website. SAGE and the WHO will have far more accurate data and they will be feeding this to the government, who seem to be ignoring it.
The UK government has decided not to bring in any more restrictions before Christmas, instead relying on a rapid roll-out of booster doses.
The NHS are doing an amazing job, administering booster doses, and have managed over one million per day, BUT only 53% of the public have received it, and any that receive it before Christmas will get very little benefit from it as it takes at least a week to become effective.
So we are relying on the effects of the virus being very mild.
New cases are now approaching 100,000 per day. The number of people in Hospital has gone up 20% since 1st December.
We don’t really know how many of these are Omicron and how many are Delta variants, but we can make some estimates. Since 10th December we have seen a 16% rise in hospital occupancy due to Covid, but a 6% drop in the number of people in mechanical ventilation beds. It seems that the Omicron variant does not attack the lungs so much as the Delta variant, so the drop in patients on ventilators is probably caused by Omicron patients replacing Delta patients. SO, a drop of 6% of people on ventilators indicates a 6% drop of Delta patients and a rise of 16% overall indicates that 21% of hospital covid beds are occupied by Omicron patients. It looks likely that a much larger majority will recover compared to the Delta variant.
The rise in Omicron patients started on 12th December. The rapid increase in cases started on 5th December so there appears to be a 7 day lag. England now has 7080 people in hospital and if 21% are Omicron patients that is around 1500 people in hospital with Omicron. 7 days ago (15th December) we were having 73,000 new cases per day, a combination of Omicron and Delta. Now before Omicron, on 8th December we had around 51,oo0 cases per day and rising at 12% per week, These would be virtually all Delta so by 15th December Delta cases would have been around 55,000 so we would have has about 18,000 Omicron cases per day which gives rise to 1500 people in hospital 7 days later. A ratio of 12 to 1
If we go back to Delta, on 10th November we were having 36,600 cases per day and on 17th November we had 8300 in hospital. A ratio of 4.5 to 1. So it looks like Omicron is around 35-40% as likely as Delta to put an infected person in hospital.
With the huge rise in cases that we are experiencing it may be very soon (2-3 weeks) that we have no room for new patients.
I really hope my approximations are wrong.
Update 23rd December
It seems the pundits agree.
Update 24th December
Because Omicron is milder, we would need 2.5 times the number of people to catch it to get an equivalent number of people in hospital compared to the Delta variant.
Looking back over the years data, hospital admissions peaked on 29th October at just over 1000 per day. This was following a peak in new cases on 17th October of around 47,000 per day. At this point 80% of people were double jabbed. So to reach this number with the Omicron variant we would need 117,000 cases. Currently we probably have 50,000 cases of Delta and 60,000 cases of Omicron.
The highest number of hospital admission we had was 4200 on 10 January. No one was vaccinated at this point but the hospitals were overwhelmed. Currently we are getting around 900 cases a day due to the Delta Variant. To get another 3300 with the Omicron variant we would have to have around 400,000 cases per day. At the current rate of increase this would occur around 8th January
But almost certainly the government will institute some measures to slow this down – probably starting on 27th December. This is just after the super spreader event of Christmas.
The good news is:- if you do catch it, it seems you have a less than 1% chance of requiring a hospital. Your chances of dying are as yet unknown, but probably very small.
The bad news is:- if you do require hospital treatment you may find it difficult to get in.
Update 27th December
The 20th December saw the highest number of Hospital admissions since February. To date no figures are available later than that.
New reported cases in England on Christmas day were over twice the previous maximum (in January 2021).
Public services, in particular thur NHS are struggling now due to covid related sickness and isolations.
But the government has decided no further restrictions for ar least a week in England.