Omicron Could Cause Up To 75,000 Deaths In UK By April-End, Warns Study  

According to a modelling study, the new variant of coronavirus called Omicron could cause between 25,000 and 75,000 Covid-19 related deaths in the UK by April next year.

Computer image of a coronavirus

According to a modelling study, the new variant of coronavirus called Omicron could cause between 25,000 and 75,000 Covid-19 related deaths in the UK by April next year.

The study suggests that Omicron has the potential to cause a wave of spread in England that could lead to higher levels of cases and hospitalisations than those seen during January 2021. The latest experimental data on the antibody-evading characteristics of Omicron to explore probable scenarios for the immune escape of the variant were used by the researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK.

Under the most optimistic scene, a surge of infection is projected which could lead to a peak of over daytime hospital admissions, with Under the most optimistic scene, a surge of infection is projected which could lead to a peak of over daytime hospital admissions, with hospitalisations and deaths between December 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022, if no fresh control measures are enforced. The optimistic scene assumes a low vulnerable escape of Omicron and high effectiveness of vaccine boosters.

In this senario bringing in control measures beforehand in 2022 which involve restrictions on inner hospitality, check of some entertainment venues, and restrictions on gathering sizes would be sufficient to mainly control this surge, reducing hospitalisations by and deaths by.

The most pessimistic scene assumes a high vulnerable escape and lower effectiveness of vaccine boosters. This scene projects a surge of infection which is likely to lead to a peak in sanitarium admissions around doubly as high as the peak seen in January 2021, if no fresh control measures are taken, with hospitalisations and deaths.

00 hospitalisations and deaths between December 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022, if no fresh control measures are enforced. The optimistic scene assumes a low vulnerable escape of Omicron and high effectiveness of vaccine boosters.

In this script, bringing in control measures beforehand in 2022 which involve restrictions on inner hospitality, check of some entertainment venues, and restrictions on gathering sizes would be sufficient to mainly control this surge, reducing hospitalisations by and deaths by.

The most pessimistic senario assumes a high vulnerable escape and lower effectiveness of vaccine boosters. This senarior projects a surge of infection which is likely to lead to a peak in sanitarium admissions around particularly as high as the peak seen in January 2021, if no fresh control measures are taken, with hospitalisations and deaths.”There is a lot of uncertainty about the characteristics of Omicron, and whether Omicron in England will follow the same course as it has in South Africa,” said Rosanna Barnard from LSHTM, who co-led the research.

“More data over the next few weeks will strengthen our knowledge on Omicron and the consequences of this on transmission in England. However, these early projections help guide our understanding about potential futures in a rapidly evolving situation,” Barnard said.

In the most optimistic scenario, the impact of Omicron in the early part of 2022 would be reduced with mild control measures such as working from home, the researchers said. However, the most pessimistic scenario suggests that the UK may have to endure more stringent restrictions to ensure the health system is not overwhelmed, they said.

Mask-wearing, social distancing and booster jabs are vital, but may not be enough, according to the researchers.

“Nobody wants to endure another lockdown, but last-resort measures may be required to protect health services if Omicron has a significant level of immune escape or otherwise increased transmissibility compared to Delta,” Barnard said.

“It is crucial for decision makers to consider the wider societal impact of these measures, not just the epidemiology,” she said.

For the two immune escape scenarios considered, the team estimate the Omicron variant to be between 10 per cent less transmissible than the Delta variant to 35 per cent more transmissible than Delta. The researchers account for the additional protection afforded by booster doses against Omicron in their scenarios. If a very high uptake of booster vaccines is achieved, then this is projected to further mitigate projected surges in cases, hospitalisations and deaths, they said.

“These are early estimates, but they do suggest that overall Omicron is outcompeting Delta rapidly by evading vaccines to a substantial degree,” said Nick Davies from LSHTM, who co-led the research.

“If current trends continue then Omicron may represent half of UK cases by the end of December,” Davies added. The researchers noted that these projections are subject to considerable uncertainty. The study has limitations including the early nature of the data used to make predictions, uncertainty over policy decisions that will be made over the next several months, and a lack of information on the relative severity of Omicron.

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