(The Daily Sceptic) – This feels like a pivotal moment. Prime Minister Boris Johnson could listen to the doom-mongers urging him to impose tighter rules after Christmas, just as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford have done.
The modeling team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicts the number of daily COVID hospital admissions will rise to 7,190 in January, but that’s far from the most apocalyptic scenario. Not to be outdone, Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College have estimated that COVID deaths are likely to rise to 5,000 a day without further restrictions. Hardly surprising, given the virus’s “exponential growth.”
According to the Prime Minister’s scientific advisors, the number of daily omicron infections is doubling every two-to-three days. Or is it every two days? Or every one-and-a-half days? They’re certainly growing very, very quickly.
And it isn’t just Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty screaming in Boris’s ear demanding he do something – anything! – to stop this tidal wave engulfing our beloved NHS. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament earlier this month that the number of new cases could exceed one million a day by the end of December. That’s in a week’s time. Crikey Moses!
Or Boris could look at the actual data, as several members of his Cabinet have been urging him to do. The data from South Africa suggests omicron is 80% milder than Delta. The data suggests that, far from doubling every couple of days, the number of daily infections is plateauing. The data suggests that, for whatever reason, the link between COVID infections and hospitalizations has been broken, with COVID hospital admissions remaining largely flat over the past two weeks in spite of the uptick in daily infections.
The data on the length of time omicron patients stay in the hospital, with one South African study showing the average hospital stay had been reduced from 8.5 days to 2.8 days. The data – endlessly reproduced on this site – shows that non-pharmaceutical interventions do little or nothing to suppress COVID infections, with every wave following exactly the same trajectory, regardless of the severity of the restrictions, or whether any containment measures are imposed at all.
The reason this is such a momentous decision is that it will set the pattern for every subsequent response of the Government to the emergence of a new variant, of which there will be many. If Boris holds to his decision over the next week or so and the omicron fire shows signs of burning itself out without the need for any further measures, that will leave the gloomsters of SAGE looking very silly indeed. It will be obvious to everyone, even the most fanatical lockdown zealot, that they’ve been crying wolf. It might even permanently break the spell they’ve cast over the nation for the past 22 months.
But if Boris capitulates and imposes ‘Plan C’ – or whatever name he gives to another hodgepodge of non-sensical, incomprehensible, completely pointless restrictions – and the omicron plague fizzles out, Neil Ferguson et al will say, “See! We’ve saved the day once again. Just as well you listened to us, Prime Minister.”