SAGE says Covid hospitalisations are ‘highly unlikely’ to reach January peak even WITHOUT Plan B


The NHS is ‘highly unlikely’ to be overwhelmed by Covid this winter even without restrictions, the Government’s scientific advisory panel said today.

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 model assumes that 1.3million elderly and vulnerable people are given a Covid booster vaccine per week, which is roughly in line with the current rate, and that 90 per cent of eligible people take up the offer.

In documents submitted to ministers last week but only published today, SAGE said there was some evidence that the peak of the third wave, in terms of hospitalisations, ‘has already happened’.

But the scientists warned against complacency, adding that there was still a threat if people suddenly drop all precautions, vaccines suddenly wane in younger groups or a new variant becomes dominant. 

The findings will justify the Government’s decision not to enact its winter ‘Plan B’ despite rising infection rates and increasing pressure from NHS bosses, doctors and many high profile scientists. 

The scenarios assume that the rollout of boosters will be ‘rapid’ and have a ‘high uptake’ but do not look at the burden of flu on the NHS. Experts predict a big spike in influenza admissions this winter due to a lack of natural immunity on the back of lockdown. 

SAGE urged ministers to be ready to bring in face masks, working from home and vaccine passports if the situation starts to deviate rapidly from the models.

Going hard and fast would reduce the need for ‘more stringent, disruptive and longer-lasting measures’ later down the line, the advisers concluded. 

The UK is currently recording nearly 47,000 new infections each day after a spike at the start of the new school term, with rates nearly on par with the peak of the second wave. 

But hospital admissions are rising much more slowly with an average of 875 per day now compared to 4,000 in mid-January, which Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said is ‘sustainable’.

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 chart is based on modelling by Warwick University and looks at how quickly people go back to pre-pandemic social contacts

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 chart is based on modelling by Warwick University and looks at how quickly people go back to pre-pandemic social contacts

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 chart is based on modelling by Warwick University and looks at how quickly people go back to pre-pandemic social contacts

In its advice dated October 13, SAGE said: ‘It will take both a rapid increase in transmission rates and repeated waning of protection from vaccination to lead to hospital admission levels in the order of magnitude of those seen in January 2021. 

‘Unless both these eventualities occur, or a new variant of concern emerges, it is highly unlikely that such levels of hospital admissions will be reached in the coming autumn and winter.’

SAGE said that policy work on the potential reintroduction of restrictions ‘should be undertaken now’ so they can be ready for ‘rapid deployment’ if needed.

Tory MPs fear ‘slippery slope’ back to lockdown if Boris Johnson triggers Covid ‘Plan B’ 

Tory MPs fear Boris Johnson will put the nation on a ‘slippery slope’ back to another lockdown if he triggers the Government’s coronavirus ‘Plan B’.

Spiking Covid-19 case numbers have prompted concerns that the Prime Minister could soon have to implement his fall back strategy which includes instructing people to work from home and to wear face masks.

But anti-lockdown Conservative MPs are adamant there should be no return to draconian curbs, claiming that the Government must not be ‘bullied’ by health chiefs into imposing new rules.

Meanwhile, hospitality bosses have also warned against reimposing restrictions, warning the PM that many pubs, bars and restaurants would ‘go to the wall’.

The hospitality industry is concerned that even light touch restrictions could hit bookings and put ‘Christmas at risk’.

The Government has insisted the triggering of ‘Plan B’ is not imminent, with the focus currently on rolling out vaccine booster shots.

But ministers struck an ominous tone this morning as they said the blueprint is ‘there for a reason’.

 

Face masks only offer ‘some’ protection against the virus and working from home would yield the biggest benefits, it concluded.

Warning against complacency, the group added: ‘A slower return to pre-pandemic behaviours and reduced waning are both expected to reduce and delay any further wave.

‘Although there remains potential for a rapid increase in hospital admissions if behaviours change quickly, and if waning is more significant and occurs after boosting.’

The advisers said that there has been a ‘decrease in self-reported precautionary behaviours such as wearing a face covering’.

They claimed the reintroduction of working from home guidance is likely to have the ‘greatest individual impact’ on transmission out of the measures under Plan B. 

The group added that there was some evidence that hospital rates might have peaked or be nearing the peak already, but admitted there were several unknowns. 

‘There are complex sensitivities around the interactions of how behaviour changes over time, the waning of immune protection and the associated booster vaccination programme and, as a result, the timing of the next peak is uncertain. This could vary from “it has already happened” to “late into 2022”.

‘If protection from vaccination does not wane much further than already observed, then hospital admission rates are unlikely to get significantly higher than those currently seen.

‘If booster vaccinations are effective, have a high uptake, and do not wane over the timescales considered here, then hospital admission rates are also unlikely to get much higher than currently seen.’ 

The scenarios that have hospital admissions below peak-second-wave levels assume that 90 per cent of eligible Britons will take up the offer of a booster.

It came as England’s Covid cases reached their highest level since mid-January with nearly one in 50 infected with the virus last week.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show around 977,900 were infected in England on any given day in the week up to October 16.

Infections have not been as high since the country began to recover from the darkest days of the second wave in at the start of the year.

Cases rose 9.88 per cent on last week’s figure of 890,000 — the fourth week in a row infections have increased.

Meanwhile, separate data from the UK Health Security Agency, which took over from the now-defunct PHE, today showed the the R rate rose on last week and is around 1.0 to 1.2, up from 0.9 to 1.1 

Figures from the Department of Health — based on the Government’s official testing programme as opposed to the random swabbing of thousands of Brits — showed cases breached 50,000 for the first time in three months yesterday. 

Department of Health bosses recorded another 52,009 infections, a 15 per cent jump on a week ago and the highest number since July 17 at the peak of the summer spike. The daily average is now approaching peak second wave levels. 

Medics warn cases will continue to spike unless Britain doubles the speed of its vaccine booster rollout. Only 4million out of the 8.7m patients in England who are eligible for a booster now have had one, including just a third of care home residents and half of over-80s.

It is being held up by the NHS sending texts to elderly Britons who ‘do not know how to use their phones’, doctors warned today.

The percentage of people testing positive remains highest for those in school years seven to 11, at 7.8 per cent, up week-on-week from 7.1 per cent

The percentage of people testing positive remains highest for those in school years seven to 11, at 7.8 per cent, up week-on-week from 7.1 per cent

The percentage of people testing positive remains highest for those in school years seven to 11, at 7.8 per cent, up week-on-week from 7.1 per cent

Cases are estimated to have increased in all regions of England except south-east England and the West Midlands, where it appeared to level off, and north-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber, where the trend was uncertain

Cases are estimated to have increased in all regions of England except south-east England and the West Midlands, where it appeared to level off, and north-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber, where the trend was uncertain

Cases are estimated to have increased in all regions of England except south-east England and the West Midlands, where it appeared to level off, and north-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber, where the trend was uncertain

Tory MPs fear Boris Johnson will put the nation on a ‘slippery slope’ back to another lockdown if he triggers the Government’s coronavirus ‘Plan B’.

Almost one in 50 people had Covid in England last week 

England’s Covid cases have reached their highest level since mid-January with nearly one in 50 infected with the virus last week, official data has shown.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show around 977,900 were infected in England on any given day in the week up to October 16.

Infections have not been as high since the country began to recover from the darkest days of the second wave in at the start of the year.

Cases rose 9.88 per cent on last week’s figure of 890,000 — the fourth week in a row infections have increased.

Meanwhile, separate data from the UK Health Security Agency, which took over from the now-defunct PHE, today showed the the R rate rose on last week and is around 1.0 to 1.2, up from 0.9 to 1.1 

Figures from the Department of Health — based on the Government’s official testing programme as opposed to the random swabbing of thousands of Brits — showed cases breached 50,000 for the first time in three months yesterday. 

Department of Health bosses recorded another 52,009 infections, a 15 per cent jump on a week ago and the highest number since July 17 at the peak of the summer spike. The daily average is now approaching peak second wave levels. 

Medics warn cases will continue to spike unless Britain doubles the speed of its vaccine booster rollout. Only 4million out of the 8.7m patients in England who are eligible for a booster now have had one, including just a third of care home residents and half of over-80s.

It is being held up by the NHS sending texts to elderly Britons who ‘do not know how to use their phones’, doctors warned today.

Spiking Covid-19 case numbers have prompted concerns that the Prime Minister could soon have to implement his fall back strategy which includes instructing people to work from home and to wear face masks.

But anti-lockdown Conservative MPs are adamant there should be no return to draconian curbs, claiming that the Government must not be ‘bullied’ by health chiefs into imposing new rules.

Meanwhile, hospitality bosses have also warned against reimposing restrictions, warning the PM that many pubs, bars and restaurants would ‘go to the wall’.

The hospitality industry is concerned that even light touch restrictions could hit bookings and put ‘Christmas at risk’.

The Government has insisted the triggering of ‘Plan B’ is not imminent, with the focus currently on rolling out vaccine booster shots.

But ministers struck an ominous tone this morning as they said the blueprint is ‘there for a reason’.

Health bosses have already called on the Government to introduce ‘Plan B’ measures as they warned the NHS is heading for a winter crisis.

More than 50,000 new coronavirus cases were confirmed yesterday – the highest number of daily reported cases since July 17.

Meanwhile, a further 115 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 139,146.

The period between Halloween and New Year’s Eve is vital for the hospitality industry as bookings normally soar before a lull in January and February.

But there are growing concerns in the sector that some coronavirus restrictions could be reimposed before the end of the year in a move which could damage consumer confidence.

Mr Johnson is said to have delayed a decision on whether fresh Covid curbs are needed until after half-term in the hope the school break will halt the surge in cases.

Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butler, which owns pubs and restaurants including the All Bar One chain, told The Guardian: ‘People are very nervous and if you move to Plan B it puts Christmas at risk.

‘The industry is not out of the woods, and just as we get our momentum back we’d have the rug pulled out from under us.’

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, echoed a similar sentiment as she warned many firms are ‘still fragile’.

‘We lost Christmas in its entirety last year so it’s desperately important for survivability, getting you through the bleak months of January and February when people don’t come out as much,’ she said.

‘A lot of businesses are still fragile. Any knock at this point in time could have an impact on viability. People will just go to the wall.’

Some Tory MPs are strongly opposed to the return of any restrictions.

One MP told MailOnline that triggering ‘Plan B’ could put the country on a ‘slippery slope’ towards another lockdown.

They said: ‘I am very concerned about the idea of moving to Plan B because you could see that slipping away into another lockdown.

‘Although the cases are high, the death rate is pretty low. It seems that if the booster rollout continues then it may keep things at bay.’

Meanwhile, Tory MP Marcus Fysh said the Government must not be ‘bullied’ into imposing new curbs.

He said: ‘The position on this has been to get bullied on different things and I don’t think we should be doing that at this point.’

Care Minister Gillian Keegan said this morning that the Government remains focused on the vaccine rollout as its main defence against the virus after she was asked why ‘Plan B’ still has not been triggered.

She told Sky News: ‘We laid out Plan A and Plan B and we have just started, as I say, five weeks ago Plan A.

‘The most important thing is to do all the tings I have just said: Get that vaccine rolled out, get those boosters rolled out.

‘And of course we have Plan B there. It is there for a reason. But right now we are really focusing.

‘We know that the vaccine is the best thing we do and really focusing on making sure that that is rolled out.’



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