Sajid Javid accused of scare-mongering for ‘wild’ claim 200k Britons are catching Omicron each day

Date:


Sajid Javid and his top health advisers were today accused of scare-mongering after clarifying that gloomy models do estimate that 200,000 Britons could be catching Omicron every day.

The Health Secretary last night told MPs that daily Covid infections were thought to have breached the 200,000 mark.

But his comments, made in a statement discussing the threat of Omicron, sparked immediate confusion over whether the figure was relating to the virus as a whole, or specifically just the super-mutant variant.

Department of Health insiders last night told The Telegraph that Mr Javid was correct to imply Omicron cases had hit 200,000 a day.

And the UK Health Security Agency, which made the grisly estimate, today revealed the maths used to make the claim. Today’s toll would be in the region of 300,000, by the team’s own calculations.

But experts today questioned the pessimistic projection, with one of the country’s most eminent statisticians calling the calculation into doubt.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline: ‘To get the figure of 200,000, they would need to assume a doubling time of 1.75 days, or a higher starting point.

‘It is very frustrating, to put it mildly, that such high-profile and surprising numbers are given without any publicly available justification.’

Professor of medicine and consultant oncologist Karol Sikora added to the criticism, stating the Government was deliberately ‘scaremongering’ the population into getting booster jabs.

‘It’s alarmist and all part of a deliberate PR ploy to get people the booster,’ he said.

‘It’s not a bad idea to get the booster, but you could see yesterday the system creaked under the pressure.’

He added that he thought the 200,000 Omicron infections a day figure was deliberately pessimistic. 

‘Virologists and the infectious disease guys thrive on bad news about it because they become important and so it’s in their interest to say there will be 200,000 infected a day.

‘I would be very surprised if it was any worse than last time.’

Dr Simon Kolstoe, an expert in evidence-based healthcare at the University of Portsmouth, told MailOnline Covid modelling is ‘complex’ and the numbers shared by officials should be ‘based on evidence’. 

He added: ‘Likewise estimates on doubling rates are precisely that – estimates – and there are many factors that influence how quickly a virus will spread. 

‘What is clear is that Omicron is a potential threat, and if we want to protect the NHS without having further lockdowns it is vital that as many people as possible get vaccinated.’

Did Britain’s ‘first Omicron death’ die FROM the Covid variant or WITH it?

 A lack of transparency over the UK’s first Omicron death prompted fury today, as a doctor told the Government to release more details to stop ‘unnecessary alarm’.

Experts are demanding answers about the UK’s first Omicron fatality, such as the individual’s vaccination status, if they were part of group vulnerable to Covid, and if the virus was the leading cause of death. 

Professor of medicine and consultant oncologist Karol Sikora said the Government was not providing the nation with enough information about the death, and that this was causing ‘unnecessarily alarming’. 

‘Were they in hospital for Covid or were they there because they had been run over by a bus?,’ he said.  

Boris Johnson revealed the UK’s first death due to Omicron on a visit to a vaccination clinic in Paddington, west London.

He said: ‘Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron.’

Mr Johnson did not reveal the age of the person who died, or if they had underlying health conditions, which made them vulnerable, or whether Omicron was the leading cause of their death or a secondary factor. 

Professor of medicine and consultant oncologist Karol Sikora said the Government should release more details about the death to put people’s minds at ease.   

‘Have they had booster? Are they elderly?,’ he said.  

‘There are all sorts of nuances to this thing, and we’re not being given proper information.’

Mr Javid told MPs yesterday: ‘There are now 4,713 confirmed cases of omicron in the UK. 

‘The UKHSA estimates that the current number of daily infections are around 200,000. 

‘While omicron represents more than 20 per cent of cases in England, we have already seen it rise to over 44 per cent in London, and we expect it to become the dominant Covid variant in the capital in the next 48 hours.’

On paper, Mr Javid’s comment on 200,000 daily infections read like he was referring to overall Covid cases, rather than specifically those caused by Omicron. 

But then The Telegraph was told last night that the Health Secretary was indeed referring to Omicron cases directly in that statement. 

UKHSA today clarified that the 200,000 figure is based on data from the Office of National Statistics, which carries out tens of thousands of random tests each week.

Its data from November 21 — the week that Omicron was first spotted in the UK — allowed them to estimate there were about 78,000 Delta infections on December 7.

This figure, they say, allowed them calculate there were approximately 23,000 daily Omicron infections on December 7.

This is based on the assumption that the variant made up around 20 per cent of cases by then. 

Then by assuming, a doubling time of two days for Omicron cases, UKHSA estimated that by yesterday approximately 207,000 people were being infected every day. 

When queried on the accuracy of the figures today, Mr Javid admitted that while previous Covid forecasts had been inaccurate, he could not just assume they were wrong.

‘With previous variants of Covid we have seen forecasts and estimates whether it’s from academics or think tanks and others that have been completely off the mark,’ he said. 

‘Just because forecasts in the past… have been wrong it doesn’t mean to say every estimate or forecast is always wrong.’ 

Doubts over the Government’s Omicron modelling came on the back of accusations over a lack of transparency regarding the death and hospitalisations that have been attributed to the variant.   

Boris Johnson has faced demands to urgently clarify the situation over Britain’s first Omicron death and 10 hospitalisations after warnings that the announcements may have sparked unnecessary panic.

The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that a patient had died after testing positive for the variant.

But he gave no extra details, such as the person’s age, condition, vaccination status or whether Covid was even the primary reason for their death. And health officials have refused to provide any further information.

This graph shows how Britain's vaccination drive is going. There was a lag in September as the booster drive got going, which opposition parties have already slammed saying it has put the country at unnecessary risk

This graph shows how Britain’s vaccination drive is going. There was a lag in September as the booster drive got going, which opposition parties have already slammed saying it has put the country at unnecessary risk

This is not the first time Government has been questioned over its presentation of Covid data and forecasting cases in the pandemic.  

Britain’s data watchdog, The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) scolded the Government for failing to be transparent with the data used to justify the second national lockdown last winter, with the potential to ‘confuse the public and undermine confidence’. 

Omicron hospitalisation rates in South Africa are a THIRD of level in summer 

Omicron is causing milder disease than Delta, in patients in the epicentre of the new Covid variant, the first major real-world study in South Africa confirmed today.

Officials who looked at 78,000 Omicron cases in the past month found the risk of hospitalisation was a fifth lower than with Delta and 29 per cent lower than the original virus. 

The finding lends weight to the theory that the ultra-infectious variant is weaker than past strains, something which doctors on the ground in South Africa have been claiming for weeks. 

But the reduction in severity is probably not solely down to Omicron being intrinsically milder, according to the South African Medical Research Council which led the analysis. 

Around 70 per cent of South Africans have recovered from Covid already and 23 per cent are double-vaccinated, which has created high levels of immunity. 

The finding will raise hopes that the UK’s Omicron wave will be less severe than previous peaks, despite having an older and denser population.

The study also found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine still provides 70 per cent protection against hospital admission or death from Omicron, compared to 93 per cent for Delta.

This data, included a now infamous chart presented by No 10’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, suggesting there could be a shocking 4,000 deaths per day by December 20 if nothing was done. 

But the figures came from an outdated model based on a projection that there would be 1,000 deaths per day by the start of November. 

In reality the daily average was lower than 200, meaning the prediction was five times too high.

And former Health Secretary Matt Hancock was slammed by the body for misleading the public on Covid tests in the height of the pandemic’s first wave in last year. 

While the need for data masterclasses was highlighted officials being interviewed by the MPs were overall positive regarding how government had handled data over the course of the pandemic. 

Their main criticism was ministers quoting data that had not been publicly released, something officials said shouldn’t happen in the interests of transparency. 

 In other Covid news Omicron has become dominant in London barely two weeks after it was first detected, health chiefs revealed today.

Professor Kevin Fenton, the capital’s director of public health, said data suggested the super-strain was already behind at least one in every two new infections in the city, up from 44 per cent just yesterday.

As the country’s major transport hub, London quickly became England’s Omicron epicentre after South Africa first raised the alarm on November 24. It is thought to have been seeded in the capital by travellers flying into the UK.

Covid cases in the capital have spiraled to their highest level since January when stringent curbs were in place, and hospitalisations in the city have risen 50 per cent to 140 admissions a day on average. Deaths remain flat but it can take up to a month for fatalities to start rising due to the time it takes to fall seriously ill. 

Nationally, Omicron is behind one in every five cases but is expected to outstrip Delta before the New Year. For comparison, it took Delta almost two months to take over from the Alpha variant. 

Cases of the Omicron variant in England. Areas that had picked up the mutant strain over this fortnight are coloured orange

This map shows areas where the Omicron variant has been detected in England. The orange colour means there are only a few cases, while red and black suggests indicates there are more cases. Yellow means there are no cases

The above maps show areas where the Omicron Covid variant has been detected in England over the two weeks to November 20 (left), and to December 4 (right). Areas where the variant has been detected are not coloured yellow. It shows how it has gone from just one local authority, to about half of the country. Areas with darker colours have detected more cases

A spokesman for London’s mayor suggested today they would back controversial local lockdown restrictions in the capital, saying it was better to ‘act now’ rather than wait for the virus to spiral out of control.

But Tory representatives called on ministers to rely on ‘strong vaccine protection’ and ramp up the booster drive, rather than curb people’s daily lives. 

Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency — which monitors variants — showed Omicron was behind 44.5 per cent of cases in the capital up to December 11. 

Nicola Sturgeon also today told Scots they could no longer mix in groups bigger than three households, and said social distancing was to return in shops and pubs because of surging Omicron numbers there.

It comes as a study in South Africa today confirmed Omicron is causing milder disease than Delta, in patients in the epicentre of the new Covid variant.

Officials who looked at 78,000 Omicron cases in the past month found the risk of hospitalisation was a fifth lower than with Delta and 29 per cent lower than the original virus. 

The finding lends weight to the theory that the ultra-infectious variant is weaker than past strains, something which doctors on the ground in South Africa have been claiming for weeks. 

But the reduction in severity is probably not solely down to Omicron being intrinsically milder, according to the South African Medical Research Council which led the analysis. 

Around 70 per cent of South Africans have recovered from Covid already and 23 per cent are double-vaccinated, which has created high levels of immunity. 

The finding will raise hopes that the UK’s Omicron wave will be less severe than previous peaks, despite having an older and denser population.

The study also found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine still provides 70 per cent protection against hospital admission or death from Omicron, compared to 93 per cent for Delta.



Source link

Denis Ava
Denis Avahttps://allbusinessreviews.org/
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling,finance,etc.

Share post:

Subscribe

Popular

More like this
Related

10 Best Cards For Iron Man, Ranked

After debuting on December 2, 2022, avid...

Priyanka Chopra Wears Jean Shorts and Crop-Top Outfit

Trendy summer styles come and go, but Priyanka...

The Best Water-Type Pokémon in Scarlet and Violet

There are a lot of Water-type Pokémon in...

Seth Rogen Will Convince You to Buy a Velvet Suit

Jordan ClarksonTony Soprano vibes, in the best possible...