BoJo Allegedly Not Going to Change COVID Rules Before Xmas as Studies Show Omicron Milder Than Delta
05:51 GMT 23.12.2021 (Updated: 15:24 GMT 28.05.2023)
During an unscheduled cabinet meeting on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pointed out that ministers are looking at "all kinds of things" to keep the Omicron variant under control and that the government "will rule nothing out".
The UK government won't make any announcements on further COVID-19 rules
this week as studies showed the new coronavirus variant Omicron is milder than the earlier Delta strain, the Daily Mail
has cited unnamed sources as saying.
According to the sources, Downing Street will wait until after 25 December to roll out any new possible restrictive measures.
The insiders referred to a South African study, which found that people diagnosed with Omicron between 1 October and 30 November were 80 percent less likely to be admitted to hospital than those diagnosed with another variant in the same period.
The research also indicated that people who were hospitalised with Omicron in October-November were 70 percent less likely to develop severe disease than those admitted with the Delta strain between April and November.
Professor Cheryl Cohen of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), one of the study's authors, underlined that "compellingly, together, our data really suggest a positive story of a reduced severity of Omicron compared to other variants".
She added, though, it remains unclear whether "the picture will be similar in countries where there are high levels of vaccination but very low levels of previous infection".
A separate study in Scotland showed that Omicron is associated with roughly a two-thirds reduction in the number of people needing hospital care as compared to Delta. Jim McMenamin, the national COVID-19 incident director for Public Health Scotland, touted the Scotland study as another "qualified good news story", but added that it was "important we don't get ahead of ourselves".
And research conducted by Imperial College London indicates that people with PCR test-confirmed Omicron are 15 to 20% less likely to need hospitalisation, and 40 to 45% less likely to require a stay of one night or more.
18 December 2021, 05:51 GMT
Referring to the study, a scientist from the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), Neil Ferguson, said that their analysis shows "evidence of a moderate reduction in the risk of hospitalisation associated with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant".
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, for his part, said that the studies are currently being assessed, while Minister of State for Care Gillian Keegan warned that there is "uncertainty" around people making plans for New Year's Eve.
PM Doesn't Exclude 'Further Action' to Tackle COVID
This followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitting during an unscheduled virtual cabinet meeting earlier this week that the government will "unfortunately have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, public health, and our NHS [National Health Service]".
He added that the figures related to the new coronavirus variant Omicron are "under constant review", with the situation "extremely difficult" and the "arguments either way are very, very finely balanced".
Last week, Johnson faced the largest Tory revolt of his time in office after a total of 99 Conservatives voted against the PM's so-called "Plan B"
on tougher COVID-19 rules for England this winter.
The plan, which includes the introduction of health certificates for nightclubs and large events in the country, was passed by a majority of 243 thanks to support from the Labour Party,
19 December 2021, 05:46 GMT
SAGE member Stephen Reicher, for his part, insisted that it was clear that Plan B measures alone would not stop the increasing number of cases. He cautioned that waiting until after Christmas to impose stricter rules is "probably too late".
In another development last week, UK media outlets reported that Downing Street was considering proposals for a post-Christmas two-week "circuit breaker" lockdown to tackle the spread of the Omicron strain.