From the BBC:
Lockdown looks to be having an impact on infection levels with the number of new cases starting to fall. But there are only tentative signs this has filtered through to a slowing of new admissions to hospital.
They illustrate this with a chart which seems to show that the lockdowns (starting late March and early December 2020) had no impact on hospitalisations whatsoever (although we will never know). Cases had fallen to a low level by July and even though the lockdown was then significantly loosened, they stayed that low until October.
They started falling a week before the December lockdown and started going up again after it started and continued going up until today (nearly two months). So at first glance, the chart looks like a seasonal illness like ‘flu. Lots of cases when it’s cold and very few when it’s nice weather (which it was for most of last year).
Over the past week more than two million people have received their first dose [of the vaccine]. That puts the government on track for achieving its aim of offering a vaccine to everyone over 70, the extremely clinically vulnerable and frontline health and care workers.
The UK government and the NHS are doing really well with the vaccinations. I am impressed and ‘proud to be British’ for once. If they can keep this up, the 15 million most vulnerable will have had their second jab by the end of March. Daily vaccination data is here.
Even if the supply is good, there will still be lots of vulnerable people. Nearly 90% of Covid deaths have been in the groups due to get the jab by mid-February.
There’s a lot that can still go wrong between now and the end of March, but this is a contradiction and the whole thing is starting to look rather positive. Out of (say) 1,000 daily deaths, 100 were people under 70 who won’t even have had their first jab by then, so that’s still 100 deaths a day in those groups. 900 deaths were the most vulnerable, if they are now 95% protected, that gets deaths in those groups to about 45 a day.
So total daily deaths will be down by six-sevenths (give or take a large margin of error) by April, at which stage the various effects will kick in:
– more natural immunity (huge numbers of people have had it. Those were presumably the more vulnerable – whether for health reasons or lifestyle reasons makes no difference – who are now immune for the time being);
– more people being vaccinated every day;
- nicer weather;
Their combined effects will mean that daily deaths are down to the dozens and declining. By next autumn/winter, it will all be over. Hopefully.
A couple of experts hit the nail on the head at the end of the article:
UK chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty has spoken about “de-risking” Covid. His point is that we will reach a situation at which the level of death and illness caused by Covid is at a level society can “tolerate” – just as we tolerate 7,000 to 20,000 people dying from flu every year.
It appears that ‘flu deaths were unusually low last year. Those who would have died of ‘flu died of Covid-19 instead. Callous but true.
Sociologist Prof Robert Dingwall, who advises the government on the science of human behaviour, believes that point will be reached sooner rather than later. “I think we will see a pretty rapid lifting of restrictions in the spring and summer. There are some sections of the science community that want to pursue an elimination strategy – but once you start seeing fatality levels down at the level of flu I think the public will accept that.”
Yup. People can get used to anything except constant change.
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