Covid – where we are and where we’re heading…

I post this report from former Director of Public Health, Cam Bowie, with permission. It does not make for particularly optimistic reading.

Introduction

The Covid Count a fortnight ago suggested a third wave now and a huge fourth wave in the winter if the delta variant is 20% more transmissible than alpha. We have up-to-date data. Is the fourth wave still large and would proper contact tracing still be able to control the epidemic?

The current situation

The epidemic curve

I now use a brilliant model to predict the future which is shown in a weekly update on a dashboard here. I have modified it to take better account of the relative benefit of one and two dose vaccine coverage. The model now picks up the increased transmissibility of the delta variant and the rapid increase in cases since restrictions were lifted.

Scenarios

Four scenarios are used to assess the effect of controlling the epidemic using a proper Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) system:

  • NPI1 = What will happen if we carry on as now (blue)
  • NPI2 = Improve FTTIS from 27% to 40% (orange)
  • NPI3 = Improve FTTIS from 27% to 60% (yellow)
  • NPI4 = Improve FTTIS from 27% to 80% (purple)
(Click to enlarge)

A small improvement in FTTIS would curtail the present wave and delay the fourth wave. Further improving FTTIS to 60% would curtail the present wave and eliminate the fourth wave. This can be achieved by

  • Handing over the responsibility and funding of tracing to local authorities
  • Support families when isolating financially and socially and with alternative housing if necessary
  • Visit each case on a daily basis to help them isolate successfully
  • A massive health promotion campaign to explain why and how and when we have won.

What will be the result of these huge waves if we carry on as now?

By this time next year if a new variant does not emerge (31st August 2022):-

  1. deaths will increase from 130,544 now to 134,000
  2. cases will have doubled from 6.7 million now to 13.3 million
  3. hospital admission will increase from 514,830 to 700,000
  4. long-Covid will afflict 415,000 people – up to now 300,000.

What is the risk of catching Covid-19 now?

Double vaccination reduces the risk of transmission by about 58%. However, the amount of contagious infection in the population will remain very high at about 0.5% for the foreseeable future. We have lost the advantage of vaccination by allowing the virus to rampage out of control yet again. You can see the local situation here.

(Click to enlarge)

Symptoms have changed

For those fully vaccinated Covid-19 symptoms have changed. They are in order of frequency:-

  1. Headache
  2. Runny nose
  3. Sneezing
  4. Sore throat
  5. Loss of smell
  6. Less common now are persistent cough, fever and shortness of breath

Commentary

The projections assume no more lockdowns but people (voluntarily) wearing masks and continuing social distancing in response to perceived risk. There are ways of controlling this virus without the need for legal regulations but to remove the only existing control measure besides vaccine and fail to replace it with better controls is seen by many public health experts in other countries as reckless. A press conference offering their thoughts is available here. Well worth a look! The Chinese have such an effective public health system without lockdowns that 870 million trips were made over Chinese New Year without losing control!

Cautious behaviour, which it seems we will need for another 12 months or so, includes:-

  • No travel abroad
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Wear a mask in public spaces including outside
  • Use shops and restaurants only if they are following Covid-19 secure practice
  • Get some lateral flow tests and take one if you are planning to visit a vulnerable person. The test is pretty good at picking up infectious infections the day before symptoms develop. But if negative still assume you may be positive.
  • Use the NHS app, isolate if pinged or self-identified as a contact.

Two things are becoming self-evident. First, this government is wanton and public health at senior level is spineless. Second, we can expect and should be planning for more deadly variants which will nullify the vaccine. Our government’s obstruction to vaccine production in third world countries is self-defeating, selfish and ignores British public sentiment.

Comments

    1. Peter May -

      I agree – the state’s knowledge has been effectively undermined by neoliberal ideology…

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