Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures whereas visiting St Thomas Hospital to obtain his coronavirus booster vaccination, in London, Britain December 2, 2021.
Paul Edwards | Reuters
LONDON — It has been criticized by many for its reluctance to introduce extra Covid-19 restrictions within the face of the omicron variant, however the U.Okay. could possibly be one of many first international locations to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, in line with one main scientist.
Talking of assorted responses to Covid, and significantly the most recent wave of instances attributable to the virulent omicron variant, main public well being official Professor David Heymann of the London College of Hygiene and Tropical Medication mentioned that “the U.Okay is the closest to any nation in being out of the pandemic if it is not already out of the pandemic and having the illness as endemic.”
“International locations are actually seeing inhabitants immunity construct up … and that appears to be maintaining the virus at bay, not inflicting critical sickness or demise in international locations the place inhabitants immunity is excessive.”
Heymann, talking at a web based seminar hosted by assume tank Chatham Home on Monday, cited the most recent figures from the U.Okay.’s statistics authority on immunity that estimated that 95% of the population in England have antibodies against infection, both by vaccination or pure an infection. The vast majority of these in intensive care items now, Heymann added, had been the unvaccinated.
The U.Okay. authorities was criticized final month for refusing to herald extra restrictions on social mixing forward of Christmas because the omicron variant, first found in South Africa in late November, unfold quickly. The U.Okay. was one of many first international locations to be hit onerous by the extremely infectious pressure.
Omicron was dubbed as “of concern” by the World Well being Group given the excessive variety of mutations of the pressure and fears it might undermine Covid vaccines.
We now know that omicron is way extra infectious than earlier variants of the virus, together with the delta variant, however a rising variety of research and real-world information present that it’s inflicting much less extreme sickness, though this is also as a consequence of widespread vaccination campaigns.
Covid vaccination affords excessive ranges of safety towards extreme sickness, hospitalization and demise and vaccine makers say early research have proven that booster photographs considerably restore safety towards the omicron variant.
The U.Okay. authorities has needed to maintain its nerve in current weeks by not introducing new restrictions on the general public, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling the British public that they must “study to stay with the virus” final yr.
The federal government has maintained this stance, regardless of fellow European international locations introducing far stricter guidelines on socializing and journey within the final month (and a few introducing partial or full lockdowns).
There are glimpses of sunshine on the finish of the tunnel, nevertheless, with growing indicators that the height of the omicron wave of infections is proving to be shorter and sharper than these seen with earlier variants. The every day variety of instances being reported by the U.Okay. is steadily falling though they nonetheless stay at excessive ranges; on Tuesday, over 120,000 instances had been recorded.
Hospitals within the U.Okay. and round Europe are working at very excessive ranges of capability though hospitalizations stay at decrease ranges than in earlier waves of the pandemic when vaccine protection was decrease.
International well being officers warning that it is too early to say the pandemic has entered an “endemic” part, the place there are persistent however low-to-moderate ranges of Covid in any given inhabitants in future however the virus isn’t inflicting extreme ranges of an infection or spreading from nation to nation (which might make it a pandemic once more).
The U.Okay.’s Schooling Secretary Nadhim Zahawi instructed the BBC Sunday that the nation was on the highway “from pandemic to endemic” as the federal government mentioned it might cut back the interval of self-isolation for vaccinated individuals who take a look at constructive for Covid from seven days to 5 (as with the latest guidance in the U.S.) to alleviate employees absences within the office and the large financial disruption attributable to Covid.