Covid cases should SLUMP by Christmas even WITHOUT Plan B crackdownOctober 25, 2021
Covid cases should SLUMP by around 85% to just 5,000-a-day by Christmas even WITHOUT Plan B crackdown, modelling for the government predicts – as record 325,000 people get booster jab in a single day
- Covid cases should slump in November to just 5,000 per day by Christmas even without Plan B restrictions
- Ministers are refraining from introducing curbs after seeing projections which show infections declining
- One model suggests that cases will soon peak before plummeting by around 85 per cent by late December
- It comes as a record 325,000 people got booster jab in a single day, while 800,000 had a third jab in 72 hours
Covid cases should slump in November by around 85 per cent to just 5,000 per day by Christmas even without Plan B restrictions, according to modelling seen by the Government.
Ministers are understood to be refraining from introducing restrictions including compulsory facemasks, advice to work from home and domestic vaccine passports after seeing projections which show infections declining rapidly within the next few weeks.
One model, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggests that cases will soon peak before falling steeply in the winter months – even without the Government’s Plan B. Other unpublished models have also shown similar drops, with experts indicating that cases could fall to around 5,000 cases a day before Christmas, The Telegraph reported.
SAGE scientist Professor John Edmunds told the paper: ‘When we were doing the work about two weeks ago, the Health Secretary had made it very clear that the government was not planning to introduce Plan B in the near future.
‘Our model was projecting that cases would start to decline some time in the autumn. However, the model also suggests that cases may start to climb again in the spring, due to a combination of waning immunity and increased contacts.’
It comes as a record 325,000 people got their booster jab in a single day, while more than 800,000 people had a third dose over three days as queues again formed at centres across the country.
The Government is coming under increasing pressure to implement Plan B after daily cases rose beyond 50,000 last week, while hospital admissions increased to more than 1,000.
Much of the current wave is being driven by high case rates in children, with scientists expecting the ‘children’s epidemic’ to run out of steam soon as immunity in youngsters increases, both through infection and vaccination.
A vaccination bus offers walk-in Covid vaccinations in London, August 6, 2021
It comes as a record 325,000 people got their booster jab in a single day, while more than 800,000 people over three days had a third jab as queues again formed at centres across the country
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting a vaccine centre in London, left, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid during a press conference held in Downing Street, right
Rishi Sunak insisted there was no need to move to Plan B to cut Covid cases today – after health chiefs discussed whether there needed to be an ‘immediate rollout’ of tougher measures to combat a surge in cases.
The Chancellor insisted that the data shows that bringing back working from home and introducing mandatory Covid passports was not yet required.
His comments to the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme came after it was reported that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the ‘immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B’.
An ‘official – sensitive’ document seen by the Observer sought opinions from the leaders and chief executives of councils across England to be fed to the Cabinet Office before then end of the day.
But Mr Sunak today said: ‘The data does not suggest we should be immediately moving to Plan B.’
However a leading Government scientist said ‘some kind of Plan B’ was needed immediately.
Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said Covid-19 hospital admissions and deaths are rising, and warned against complacency in what he said is a ‘worsening’ situation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has resisted pleas from health leaders for tighter restrictions despite the rising number of cases, said vaccines will get the country through the winter and out of the pandemic.
Yesterday, Department of Health bosses reported a further 39,962 cases – down by eleven per cent in a week. However, the number of people dying with Covid rose from 57 on October 27 to 72 – a rise of 26 per cent.
Labour said it now backed the immediate reintroduction of restrictions, despite Sir Keir Starmer saying on Thursday that the debate over which plan to follow was the ‘wrong focus’.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme there was no need to move to Plan B to cut Covid cases, amid reports that health chiefs have discussed whether there needs to be an ‘immediate rollout’ of tougher measures.
The Observer reported that the UK Health Security Agency contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the ‘immediate rollout of the winter plan – Plan B’.
NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said infection rates are rising and that NHS England has already administered five million booster jabs. And on Sunday, it said more than 800,000 people had their booster in the past 72 hours.
The Government has launched a media blitz in recent days encouraging people to get a booster, as well as urging those not yet vaccinated to get jabbed.
But Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has warned that the vaccination programme will not be enough to bring current infection rates under control and warned against complacency in what he said is a ‘worsening’ situation.
He said people need to be testing themselves, wearing masks and avoiding crowds in enclosed spaces in order to prevent ‘a real meltdown’.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day, but Downing Street has insisted there is still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B will only be activated if it comes under ‘significant pressure’.
Plan B includes working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks.
Asked if it is time to bring in Plan B to tackle coronavirus, Mr Sunak said ‘at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B’.
He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: ‘Well, the Prime Minister actually just said that we’re looking at the data all the time, as you would expect us to.
‘We’re monitoring everything, but at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B, but of course we will keep an eye on that and the plans are ready.’
Rishi Sunak pledges £6 BILLION for the NHS to tackle Covid backlog: Chancellor will unveil cash injection in Wednesday’s budget with more diagnostic scans, shorter waits for surgery and improved IT all promised
Rishi Sunak is expected to unveil a £6billion package of funding for the NHS to ease the growing backlog and undo the enormous damage inflicted during the Covid pandemic in Wednesday’s budget.
The Chancellor is due to set out the investment in NHS capital funding that will support the aim to deliver around 30 per cent more elective activity by 2024-25 compared to pre-Covid levels.
This is equivalent to millions more checks, scans and procedures for non-emergency patients, the Treasury insisted.
It comes amid warnings from doctors that backlogs of more than five million patients waiting for non-emergency treatments are ‘dangerously close’ to crippling the health service.
In a bid to address the backlog of people waiting for checks, tests and scans, and help get waiting lists down, some £2.3billion will be used to try to transform diagnostic services.
But the additional funding is likely to raise eyebrows among Conservatives who are already upset over a lack of tax cuts to help businesses and workers struggling after 18 months of shutdowns.
In September NHS bosses were given a £30billion handout as Prime Minister Boris Johnson clobbered Britons with their highest tax burden since the Second World War. The health service will receive the vast majority of the £36billion raised by a National Insurance hike over the next three years, with social care receiving a £5.3billion slice.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said Plan A is ‘working’ and ‘where we need to be’.
Asked where case numbers will have to get to before the public will be asked to work from home, Ms Throup told LBC: ‘The public has been very patient in doing what we’ve asked them to do.
‘And I think Plan A has actually opened up people’s lives and that’s so important because if we do need to take further measures I’m sure they’ll have appreciated exactly the freedoms we’ve been able to offer them at this time.
‘Plan A is working, as I said, the data right now shows that Plan A is working.’
The Government has launched a media blitz encouraging people to get a booster jab, and is encouraging those not yet vaccinated to do so.
Chief executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard tweeted on Sunday afternoon: ‘Yesterday was the biggest day yet for Covid booster jabs: more than 325,000 people getting vital protection.
‘In the past three days over 800,000 people have had their booster jab.’
Prof Finn said that while vaccines are very effective at stopping people from getting seriously ill, they are not so effective at stopping infections altogether or stopping the virus from spreading.
‘They do have an effect on that, but they’re not by themselves going to be enough at the present time to keep the spread of the virus under control,’ he said.
‘And we do need to see people continuing to make efforts to avoid contact, to avoid transmission, and to do other things as well as get vaccinated if we’re going to stop this rise from going up further,’ he told Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News.
Prof Finn added: ‘I would like to re-emphasise the fact that the vaccine programme by itself, in the current situation, even if things go optimally, is not, in my opinion, enough to bring things under control.
‘We do need to have people using lateral flow tests, avoiding contact with large numbers of people in enclosed spaces, using masks, all of those things now need to happen if we’re going to stop this rise and get things under control soon enough to stop a real meltdown in the middle of the winter.’
His comments came after another prominent adviser to the Government on Covid-19 said he is ‘very fearful’ there will be another ‘lockdown Christmas’ as he urged the public to do everything possible to reduce transmission of the virus.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said case numbers and death rates are currently ‘unacceptable’.
He said measures such as working from home and mask-wearing are ‘so important’ as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid.
Prof Openshaw also advised people to ‘take matters into your own hands’, telling BBC Breakfast on Saturday: ‘Don’t wait necessarily for Government policy.’
Meanwhile, Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said people need to try to minimise the need for healthcare resources. She told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday: ‘We didn’t go into the pandemic in a great place in emergency care. We didn’t have enough beds then.
Modelling by SAGE predicted that the combination of vaccine-acquired immunity and natural protection would be enough to keep hospital rates below levels seen in the second wave. Even in the most pessimistic scenarios, the group estimated that daily Covid hospital admissions would not rise above 1,500. More optimistic models had them peaking at below 1,000 in winter. The above charts are based on modelling by Warwick University and look at how quickly people go back to pre-pandemic social contacts. It was based on the booster doses given ‘sustained’ immunity
Other SAGE modelling took into account ‘repeated’ waning from booster doses, and projected that hospital admissions could breach levels seen during the second wave in January under the worst-case projections
Only around 4.5million (green line) out of the 9.3million eligible people (blue line) in England have received the crucial third dose, prompting ministers to urge people to come forward for their inoculations
‘The problem is that things are worse at the moment so we need everybody to be as careful with the healthcare resources as they possibly can be, and try and minimise the need for healthcare resources.
‘So if we’ve got 8,000 patients in hospital who are suffering Covid, if we didn’t have those patients that would be another 8,000 beds in the system.
‘So every bed that gets filled by a patient with Covid in a sense is in a hospital bed with a potentially avoidable disease, and that’s what we need people to focus on if we want to get through the elective backlog.’
Meanwhile, The Observer reported that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the ‘immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B’.
A UKHSA spokeswoman said: ‘We don’t comment on leaks. It is part of UKHSA’s role to provide advice to the Government on the ongoing response to the pandemic.
‘UKHSA recognises the significant past and ongoing importance of local authorities and their directors of public health in managing the pandemic.
‘We will continue to consult with them and learn from the experience of local communities to help us to protect the nation’s health.’
Could the Army be the answer? 4,000 troops are on standby to help the NHS cope if it is in danger of becoming overwhelmed this winter
Four thousand troops are on standby to aid the NHS deal with a winter crisis, the Defence Secretary said last night.
Ben Wallace said they are ‘ready to help’ carry out tasks such as administering vaccines, testing for Covid, driving ambulances and providing general support in hospitals.
The revelation is among the surest signs yet that ministers are on ‘a war footing’ ahead of a feared winter crisis in the NHS.
Four thousand troops are on standby to aid the NHS deal with a winter crisis, the Defence Secretary (pictured) said last night
Scientists are increasingly concerned over the impact that coronavirus, flu and other seasonal pressures could have on already stretched hospitals in the weeks ahead.
And it emerged yesterday that ministers in England are considering ‘restructuring’ the NHS waiting list to counter fears that it is becoming overwhelmed.
Many obese patients who are waiting for minor operations but have been told they must first lose weight could be removed from waiting lists.
Last week the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust declared a critical incident, with up to 100 patients waiting to be seen in the emergency department and 25 ambulances waiting outside.
Managers contacted staff asking them to work extra hours to help handle ‘intense pressures’ and families were urged to contact wards if they could provide support to enable someone waiting for home care to leave hospital sooner.
Ben Wallace said they are ‘ready to help’ carry out tasks such as administering vaccines, testing for Covid, driving ambulances and providing general support in hospitals
Several Scottish health boards are pleading for further military support to help them cope with soaring demand and to roll out the booster vaccine.
Mr Wallace, speaking in Scotland, said: ‘We’ve got plenty [of armed forces personnel available] and in winter we put on standby thousands of military personnel, mainly because of our experience of floods and things.
‘We have already put on standby something like 4,000-plus people, for the whole of the United Kingdom.’
Pledging that more support will be provided in Scotland if needed, he said: ‘They [the Armed Forces] all belong to the United Kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon might be SNP but if the people of Scotland need the support of defence, they’ll get it.’ However, he warned that additional support from military personnel cannot be used to let devolved governments ‘off the hook’ for policy failings. It will only be provided for the ‘next few months’, or however long the pandemic lasts, but should not be expected beyond that.
Meanwhile, the UK’s top gynaecologist warned last night that NHS maternity services are near breaking point.
Meanwhile, the UK’s top gynaecologist warned last night that NHS maternity services are near breaking point
Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘We’re becoming increasingly concerned about the immense pressures facing our maternity staff this winter if the situation continues as it is.
‘With the number of Covid-19 cases rising, the NHS could soon be in a situation where it is unable to deliver the care it needs to or deal with the huge backlog that has already built up.’
He told The Guardian that many women and girls suffering from gynaecological conditions are currently on extensive waiting lists with ‘no end in sight’.
And Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: ‘We are already struggling to cope.
‘This is not something that’s coming in the next couple of months, we are already in a terrible place where we have got large queues of ambulances with vulnerable people waiting to be offloaded into departments and other patients at home waiting to be picked up by the ambulance.’
She told Sky News: ‘The system is incredibly busy. We are already reaching a point where you don’t get an immediate answer when you ring 999.’
Proof that boosters can avert a disaster: Data from Israel on effect of third Covid jab fuels hopes that Britain can avoid winter health crisis
Hopes were raised last night that Britain could avoid a winter health crisis as data from Israel shows booster jabs can significantly reduce cases and hospitalisations.
The country, which has led the way in vaccinations, rolled out boosters when immunity from the first two jabs began to wane in the summer.
Almost half of its population has now been given a third shot and last week, hospitalisations had halved compared to the previous month.
The country, which has led the way in vaccinations, rolled out boosters when immunity from the first two jabs began to wane in the summer
Cases also dropped to 1,200 – around five times lower than in September.
It will come as welcome news to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is increasing efforts to ramp up the booster programme.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, yesterday revealed that Saturday was the busiest day for Covid booster jabs, with more than 325,000 patients receiving their third dose.
Almost half of its population has now been given a third shot and last week, hospitalisations had halved compared to the previous month
Hopes were raised last night that Britain could avoid a winter health crisis as data from Israel shows booster jabs can significantly reduce cases and hospitalisations
But take-up of booster doses has been slow. Those eligible currently include only the over-50s and those who are immunocompromised.
And patients need to wait for six months after their last dose. But in a bid to speed up the programme, NHS chiefs will now allow eligible patients to book their third jab a month earlier.
It comes as figures released yesterday reveal another 39,962 cases and 72 deaths from Covid.
Meanwhile, Mr Javid is looking to make getting the jab a ‘condition of employment’ for NHS staff – but there are fears it could spark a backlash.
The Department of Health said those eligible for a booster ‘should book as soon as they are invited’. It added that more than 5million booster jabs have been administered in England.
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