Speaking at the online event, Edmunds dismissed suggestions that the Omicron variant might be “good news” if it hospitalised people at only half the rate as the Delta variant. The hope comes largely from hospital admissions in South Africa, where the population is far younger than in the UK and so less likely to experience severe Covid illness in the first place. While the average age in the UK is just over 40, it is less than 28 in South Africa.
Edmunds said there was “not a shred of evidence” that Omicron was half as pathogenic as the Delta variant, but added that even if this were the case, it might not make the difference people hoped for. “This is a very severe setback. There is no question about that.”
“If you are worried about the time [at] which the NHS might start to get very stressed, then halving the hospitalisation rate means that buys you two to three days. I think it’s really silly to suggest this is good news; it couldn’t be further from that,” he added. “This is as bad news as you can possibly get, quite frankly.”