uk christmas parties covid
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The UK could face "more stringent measures" after Christmas to counter the spread of the Omicron variant over the festive season, an expert has told Sky News.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said the emergence of Omicron in the UK was "appalling timing" as the next few weeks are "one of the highest risk periods... with a lot of indoor socialising".

He said that the government "would love not to disrupt Christmas", but he warned: "What happens after Christmas is another matter.

Comment: I guess it depends on your perspective, it seems like it's extremely convenient timing for the PTB.

"The travel restrictions are only going to slow things down a little, they're not going to stop it.

Comment: Given that it's unlikely to cause any serious symptoms, there have been NO reported deaths, and it may even replace other strains of the coronavirus, that's a good thing, right?

Sir David Spiegelhalter

Statistician Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter warned of the potential consequences of Christmas mixing
"In the New Year we're likely to see a lot of challenges and that could mean more stringent measures."

Comment: Well, they never let a good opportunity go to waste do they.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News earlier on Sunday: "The government wants people to enjoy Christmas this year", adding that employers should take a "common sense" approach to office parties.

Comment: Like Downing Street did last year?

Although the UK is still waiting for real-world data on the new variant, Professor Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, said that currently it does not appear to have as much of a risk of severe disease.

Comment: So what's the big fuss for? Ah yes, control.

"It doesn't look as if it's really severe if you get it," he said. "I think that's about all we can say at the moment."

Comment: So no need for the fearmongering then.

He also praised the booster vaccines for "saving very large numbers of lives".

Comment: Unproven.

Proportion of eligible 40+ year olds who have had a booster doseDaily proportion of 40+ year olds who had their second jab more than six months ago and who've received a booster dose in England:
uk covid vaccine boosters graph
© SOURCE: GOV.UK and NHS England
Eligibility for third dose is calculated using the number of 40+ year olds who received their second dose 6-months ago. The number of booster doses includes some 3rd primary doses, which differs from a booster dose.
Data updated at 17:00 05 December 2021
"It's a very strange situation we're in where cases in young people are going up, but cases in old people are coming down," he said.

Comment: Could this have anything to do with the recent vaccine rollout for young people?

"That's the booster effect - we are being saved by boosters essentially - they are extraordinarily effective."

Comment: Again, this is unproven.

He said that after three doses of a COVID vaccine "you are more protected than you have ever been, even from the beginning".

But he cautioned that annual booster jabs are likely to be a reality in order to top up people's immunity to the virus.

Comment: More like every three months as the new government guidelines state.

"I think we are going to be getting boosters for the foreseeable future," he said, suggesting that Omicron may become endemic.

Comment: A benign endemic...

"It's not clear what that is going to mean for our lives. But we're going to have to get used to it," he added.

Comment: Not a lot given that it isn't very harmful. What it will mean to receive booster shots every three months is another story.

It came after Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the return of pre-departure coronavirus tests for all people arriving in the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that the blanket measures on testing, which will come in at 4am on 7 December, are in response to scientists saying Omicron may have a "reduced incubation period".

This means there could be a smaller window between someone catching the virus and becoming infectious than with previous variants.

Although Professor Spiegelhalter said travel restrictions will "slow down" the spread of Omicron in the UK, he stressed that working from home "is extremely effective" as it "halves the number of close contacts people have".