The government’s scientific advisory group, SPI-M-O, has warned that coronavirus may cause havoc for Christmas festivities for the next five years until it is more effectively contained
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Covid may not just cause havoc for Christmas plans this year but for the next five until it is more effectively contained, warned a scientific advisory group for the government.
The stark view of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) is that it may take another five years for the virus to be dealt with in a predictable endemic state.
The government advisory group said that many factors have to be taken into consideration in assessing how long it will take for Covid to become less dangerous and “it will take a long time”, reported BirminghamLive.
The scientists made the warning to government at a meeting on November 24.
“It will take a long time for Covid-19 to settle to its endemic state,” the group warned.
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“The path to endemicity will be critically dependent on the rate of waning of immunity and chosen policies on vaccination and boosting.
“SARS-CoV-2 will continue to be a threat to health system function and require active management, of which vaccination and surveillance are key, for at least the next five years.”
It comes as a further 75 cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in England amid signs of a “small amount” of community infection, the UK Health Security Agency (HSA) has said.
The latest cases take the total for England to 104 and for the UK as a whole to 134 – including the first confirmed case in Wales.
Sage scientists have said that even if vaccinations are effective in tackling the virus, there are likely to be still high infection rates and hospitalisations which puts a big burden on the NHS.
The Sage group stated: “Even if there continues to be good protection against severe disease for individuals from vaccination (including boosters), any significant reduction in protection against infection could still result in a very large wave of infections.
“This would in turn lead to potentially high numbers of hospitalisations even with protection against severe disease being less affected.
“The size of this wave remains highly uncertain but may be of a scale that requires very stringent response measures to avoid unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
“If vaccine efficacy is substantially reduced, then a wave of severe disease should be expected.”
It added: “It is important to be prepared for a potentially very significant wave of infections with associated hospitalisations now, ahead of data being available.”
The HSA has rated the new Omicron variant as “red” for severity of infection and “amber” for transmissibility between humans.
It said the variant, first identified in South Africa, was likely to reduce the protection from both naturally or vaccine-acquired immunity.
However it acknowledged that there is so far “insufficient data” to reach firm conclusions and the assessment was presented with “low confidence”.
An analysis by the HSA of 22 confirmed Omicron cases in England found 12 were of individuals who had received at least two doses of the vaccine.
Two had had a first dose of vaccine, six were unvaccinated while in two cases there was no available information.
None of the individual affected are known to have been admitted to hospital or died, but the HSA said most cases were very recent and there was “a lag between onset of infection and hospitalisation and death”.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.