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12 Dec, 2021 10:24

Optimistic & pessimistic Omicron scenarios revealed

Optimistic & pessimistic Omicron scenarios revealed

British scientists have employed mathematical modeling to forecast the potential impact of the ‘super-mutant’ Omicron variant of Covid-19 in England, advocating additional control measures to avoid the worst-case scenario.

Every scenario considered by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) included a wave of transmission caused by Omicron, which has more mutations than any other known strains of the virus.

Their most optimistic projection suggested that if no additional anti-coronavirus measures are implemented, some 175,000 people are going to end up in hospital and around 24,700 will die in England due to the new variant between December 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022.

The most pessimistic scenario, in which Omicron would show high immune escape and booster shots would prove ineffective against it, promised 492,000 hospitalizations and 74,800 deaths during the period.

However, those numbers could be significantly reduced if control measures, including the closure of entertainment venues, limitations on public gatherings, and restrictions on indoor hospitality, are introduced early next year, the researchers insisted.

“These are early estimates, but they do suggest that overall Omicron is outcompeting Delta rapidly by evading vaccines to a substantial degree. If current trends continue then Omicron may represent half of UK cases by the end of December,” said Dr. Nick Davies, who co-authored the paper that has yet to be peer reviewed.

The team at LSHTM pointed out that their projections were subject to “considerable uncertainty” due to insufficient data on Omicron at the moment and the fact the authorities haven’t yet fully formulated their response to the threat.

The detection of Omicron in South Africa last month led to concerns and travel bans around the globe. Some early research into the new variant has confirmed fears of its higher transmissibility and the reduced effectiveness of vaccines. However, the strain doesn’t appear to make the disease more serious, with the vast majority of reported cases being light or moderate.