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.Ok. might be one of many first international locations to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, in keeping with one main scientist.
Talking of varied responses to Covid, and significantly the newest wave of circumstances attributable to the virulent omicron variant, main public well being official Professor David Heymann of the London Faculty of Hygiene and Tropical Medication stated that “the U.Ok 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 at the moment are seeing inhabitants immunity construct up … and that appears to be retaining the virus at bay, not inflicting severe sickness or loss of life in international locations the place inhabitants immunity is excessive.”
Heymann, talking at a web-based seminar hosted by suppose tank Chatham Home on Monday, cited the newest figures from the U.Ok.’s statistics authority on immunity that estimated that 95% of the inhabitants in England have antibodies in opposition to an infection, both via vaccination or pure an infection. The vast majority of these in intensive care models now, Heymann added, have been the unvaccinated.
The U.Ok. authorities was criticized final month for refusing to usher in extra restrictions on social mixing forward of Christmas because the omicron variant, first found in South Africa in late November, unfold quickly. The U.Ok. 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 may undermine Covid vaccines.
We now know that omicron is much extra infectious than earlier variants of the virus, together with the delta variant, however a rising variety of research and real-world knowledge present that it’s inflicting much less extreme sickness, though this is also as a result of widespread vaccination campaigns.
Covid vaccination gives excessive ranges of safety in opposition to extreme sickness, hospitalization and loss of life and vaccine makers say early research have proven that booster pictures considerably restore safety in opposition to the omicron variant.
The U.Ok. 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 would have to “learn to live 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 rising indicators that the height of the omicron wave of infections is proving to be shorter and sharper than these seen with earlier variants. The each day variety of circumstances being reported by the U.Ok. is steadily falling (though they nonetheless stay at excessive ranges; on Tuesday, over 120,000 circumstances have been recorded).
Hospitals within the U.Ok. 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.
Global health officials caution that it’s too early to say the pandemic has entered an “endemic” phase, the place there are persistent however low-to-moderate ranges of Covid in any given inhabitants in future however the virus shouldn’t be inflicting extreme ranges of an infection or spreading from nation to nation (which might make it a pandemic once more).
The U.Ok.’s Training Secretary Nadhim Zahawi instructed the BBC Sunday that the nation was on the street “from pandemic to endemic” as the federal government stated it may scale back the interval of self-isolation for vaccinated individuals who take a look at optimistic for Covid from seven days to 5 (as with the latest guidance in the U.S.) to alleviate workers absences within the office and the huge financial disruption attributable to Covid.