Monday, January 24, 2022

Omicron Cases May Sharply Reduce In UK And US

Scientists are seeing signals that the alarming omicron wave of COVID-19 may have peaked in the UK and is about to do the same in the US, after which the number of cases could begin to decline sharply.

Reason: This variant turned out to be so contagious that people who could be infected may no longer be enough, just a month and a half after it was first discovered in South Africa.

“It will decline as quickly as it went up,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of health indicators at the University of Washington in Seattle.

At the same time, experts warn that much is still not known about how the next phase of the pandemic may develop. The plateau or decline in two countries does not happen everywhere at the same time or at the same rate. And weeks or months of suffering are yet to come for patients and congested hospitals, even if a fall occurs.

People queue in freezing temperatures to get tested for COVID-19 during a spike in New York’s Times Square on January 11.

Roy Rokhlin via Getty Images

“There are still a lot of people who will become infected when we go down the slope on the other side,” said Lauren Ansel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, which predicts that the peak of reported cases will reach within a week.

The University of Washington’s own highly influential model suggests that the number of daily reported cases in the United States will peak at 1.2 million by January 19 and then plummet “simply because everyone who can be infected will be infected,” according to Mokdad.

In fact, he said, according to the university’s complex calculations, the true number of new daily infections in the US – an estimate that includes people who have never been tested – has already peaked, peaking at 6 million on January 6.

In the UK, meanwhile, the number of new cases of COVID-19 fell to about 140,000 a day last week after a sharp rise to over 200,000 a day earlier this month, according to government figures.

A display can be seen at a bus stop on Oxford Street in London informing people to wear a face mask on public transport as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.
A display can be seen at a bus stop on Oxford Street in London informing people to wear a face mask on public transport as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.

SOPA Images via Getty Images

Data from the UK’s National Health Service this week shows hospital admissions for adults with coronavirus have begun to fall, with infections falling across all age groups.

Kevin McConway, a retired British Open University professor of applied statistics, said that while COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in places like southwest England and the West Midlands, the outbreak may have peaked in London.

The numbers raised hope that the two countries were about to go through something similar to what happened in South Africa, where the wave reached an all-time high within a month and then dropped significantly.

“We are seeing a definite decrease in the number of cases in the UK, but I would like them to fall much further before we know if what happened in South Africa will happen here,” said Dr. Paul Hunter, professor of medicine. at the British University of East Anglia.

Dr. David Heymann, who previously headed the infectious diseases division of the World Health Organization, said the UK was “the closest country to emerging from a pandemic”, adding that COVID-19 is slowly becoming endemic.

Times Square, unusually empty due to freezing temperatures and the COVID-19 outbreak, on January 11.
Times Square, unusually empty due to freezing temperatures and the COVID-19 outbreak, on January 11.

Roy Rokhlin via Getty Images

Differences between the UK and South Africa, including the UK’s older population and its residents’ tendency to spend more time indoors during the winter, could mean a more severe outbreak for the country and others like it.

On the other hand, the decision by the British authorities to impose minimum restrictions against the omicron could allow the virus to spread among the population and spread much faster than in Western European countries that have introduced stricter COVID-19 control measures such as France. Spain and Italy.

Shabir Mahdi, dean of health sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, said European countries that are quarantining will not necessarily experience the omicron wave with fewer infections; cases can simply be stretched out over a longer period of time.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that 7 million new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Europe over the past week, calling it “a tidal wave sweeping the region.” WHO cited a model from the Mocdad group that predicts that half of Europe’s population will be infected with an omicron within about eight weeks.

By then, however, Hunter and others expect the world to overcome the omicron surge.

“There will probably be ups and downs along the way, but I hope we get it done by Easter,” Hunter said.

However, the sheer numbers of infected people could be overwhelming for fragile healthcare systems, said Dr. Prabhat Jha of the Center for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

“The next few weeks will be brutal because in absolute numbers so many people are infected that the virus will end up in intensive care units,” Jha said.

Mokdad also warned in the US: “It will be a difficult two or three weeks. We have to make tough decisions to allow some of the core workers to keep working in the knowledge that they can be contagious. ”

Omicron could one day be seen as a turning point in the pandemic, according to Meyers of the University of Texas. The immunity gained from all new infections, along with new drugs and ongoing vaccinations, could make the coronavirus something we can coexist with more easily.

“At the end of this wave, many more people will be infected with some form of COVID,” Meyers said. “At some point we will be able to draw a line – and the omicron may be that point – where we move from what is a catastrophic global threat to something that is a much more manageable disease.”

This is one likely future, she said, but there is also the possibility of a new variant emerging – much worse than the omicron.

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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