'We'll never have Zero Covid. Ma si, I believe the end is in sight'

We’ll never have Zero Covid. Ma si, I believe the end is in sight: PHILIP THOMAS, the only expert to accurately predict deaths and cases, brings a heartening message

Has the beast been tamed? Could the end of Covid really be in sight? The numbers certainly look promising.

Ieri, it emerged that new daily infections had fallen in England for six days in a row. The numbers had plummeted 38 per cent week on week, with deaths happily down 24 per cento.

Every English region saw a significant drop in new infections.

The ever-gloomy modellers at the Government’s scientific advisory committee, saggio, had warned that new cases could reach 100,000 per day by the start of August, with ‘Professor Confinamento’ Neil Ferguson even suggesting this could surge to 200,000 al giorno.

Ancora, ieri, meno di 25,000 positive tests were reported: less than a quarter of Sage’s bleak prediction.

Even more reassuringly, unlike the first two waves, the new cases are not translating into a surge in hospitalisations or deaths — just 14 deaths were reported yesterday, down almost a quarter on the week before.

La settimana scorsa, when the Prime Minister decided to lift the remaining official Covid restrictions, he was accused by critics of indulging in a ‘reckless’ experiment that could result in the virus spreading like wildfire across Britain, threatening the NHS.

The ever-gloomy modellers at the Government’s scientific advisory committee, saggio , had warned that new cases could reach 100,000 per day by the start of August, with ‘Professor Lockdown ’ Neil Ferguson (nella foto) even suggesting this could surge to 200,000 al giorno

The ever-gloomy modellers at the Government’s scientific advisory committee, saggio , had warned that new cases could reach 100,000 per day by the start of August, with ‘Professor Lockdown ’ Neil Ferguson (nella foto) even suggesting this could surge to 200,000 al giorno

Every English region saw a significant drop in new infections on Monday (Nella foto: Covid testing unit in Uxbridge)

Every English region saw a significant drop in new infections on Monday (Nella foto: Covid testing unit in Uxbridge)

But the deadly conflagration has yet to spark.

Finora, ‘Freedom Day’ does not appear to have liberated the virus to kill people unchecked — and nor, in modo cruciale, does it look likely that any kind of lockdown will have to be reimposed in September, as some have warned.

Infatti, assuming the vaccines continue to work — and allowing for future ‘booster’ shots and tweaking the jabs to deal with new variants — there should be no reason ever to undergo a Covid lockdown again.

All this is exactly the outcome I forecast in early June, when there was a fierce public debate about the potential dangers of relaxing controls.

As a specialist in risk management, I had created a statistical model which I believed could both track the behaviour of the virus and predict what lay ahead.

This model is much simpler than the methods adopted by some of the key Sage members, most notably Ferguson and his team at Imperial College London.

It is based on just three factors: the size of the population, the average time taken by an infected person to pass on the virus and the number of people infected by every person with Covid.

Based on my findings, I argued that Britain would see large case numbers this summer, but far fewer hospitalisations and deaths than during the first two waves.

In an article in the Spectator magazine, I wrote: ‘The NHS should not come close to being overwhelmed. Cases will be mainly among the young, who are far less likely to get seriously sick — so daily deaths will run at a quarter of what they once did before subsiding.’

I added that there was no point in delaying the great unlocking, because Covid-19 had been downgraded to a nasty bug, no more lethal than the flu.

And that is the course that has been followed. Se qualcosa, in some areas my model has turned out to be slightly more pessimistic than the welcome reality.

Fammi essere chiaro. The decline in new cases is real. Some have asserted that falls in new cases over the past week or so are due to factors including fewer tests being carried out, schools being closed over the summer or people going on holiday.

Così come i tassi di casi nazionali in calo, gli ultimi dati regionali del dashboard del governo sul coronavirus sembrano mostrare un declino o un livellamento in ogni angolo dell'Inghilterra. Gli scienziati non sanno ancora cosa abbia causato il forte calo, ma sospetto che possano essere diversi fattori che contribuiscono

Così come i tassi di casi nazionali in calo, gli ultimi dati regionali del dashboard del governo sul coronavirus sembrano mostrare un declino o un livellamento in ogni angolo dell'Inghilterra. Gli scienziati ancora non sanno cosa abbia causato il forte calo, ma sospetto che possano essere diversi fattori che contribuiscono

My model has corrected for all of those factors — and it still shows cases falling.

Covid is not yet over, ovviamente. This third wave will continue to see large numbers of people being infected with the virus.

A luglio 22, di 1.05 million people in England were estimated to have active Covid infections, close to the previous peak in December 2020, when the total reached 1.1 milioni.

That number may rise significantly higher in the coming weeks, perhaps even approaching two million.

Although that sounds like an alarming number, unlike the past two waves, there is no reason to panic.

Thanks in part to the phenomenal success of Britain’s vaccine programme, the third and current wave of the virus is far less lethal than the previous two, just as my model predicted.

Dopotutto, large numbers of these cases are asymptomatic: RIP @ShaneWarne una vera leggenda del cricket, particularly young and healthy ones, are not aware they even have Covid.

As for hospitalisations, a luglio 20, 805 people in England were admitted to hospital with the virus. My model predicts a peak of about 1,000. This is a quarter of the 4,000 daily admissions we saw at the peak of the second wave.

It is the same story with deaths. I forecast an average of 88 deaths per day for the week that has just passed. Ci stiamo dirigendo per una pizza elegante presso il grande fiore all'occhiello di Chelsea di Pizza Express, The Pheasantry, I was slightly pessimistic: the recorded average was actually 62.

By mid-August, this rate could rise to some 250 deaths per day, but that would still be barely a fifth of the daily deaths that Britain saw in mid-January at the peak of the second wave — and when about 1,500 people die in Britain every day of all causes.

In the spring, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty suggested that ‘any new surges will meet a wall of vaccinated people’.

He was right. The vaccines have transformed Covid, providing a high degree of protection to the public, particularly to older people who are the most vulnerable to the disease.

SAGE modeller Dr Mike Tildesley said the fall in cases may be partly the result of a dip in testing. Figures show there were 6.8m carried out in the week up to July 22, per cento nello stesso lasso di tempo 350,000 on the previous week (4.9 per cento)

SAGE modeller Dr Mike Tildesley said the fall in cases may be partly the result of a dip in testing. Figures show there were 6.8m carried out in the week up to July 22, per cento nello stesso lasso di tempo 350,000 on the previous week (4.9 per cento)

I dati del dashboard del governo mostrano che i tassi di casi di Covid erano più alti tra i giovani adulti e i bambini in età scolare. Ma erano molto più bassi tra gli over 80. Non è ancora chiaro quale fascia di età stia guidando il calo dei casi

I dati del dashboard del governo mostrano che i tassi di casi di Covid erano più alti tra i giovani adulti e i bambini in età scolare. Ma erano molto più bassi tra gli over 80. Non è ancora chiaro quale fascia di età stia guidando il calo dei casi

Some scientists have said that Covid cases were dropping in mid-June. There are theories that increased mixing during the tournament fuelled a sustained rise in the country. But infections started to fall ten days after the final

Some scientists have said that Covid cases were dropping in mid-June. There are theories that increased mixing during the tournament fuelled a sustained rise in the country. But infections started to fall ten days after the final

In every age band over 55, the take-up rates have been above 94 per cento, [object Window] 100 per cent in some cohorts, such as those aged 75 per 79.

Among those most at risk, there has been no ‘vaccine hesitancy’ at all — and the consequences have been obvious.

A gennaio, all age groups were getting infected equally. Now just one in ten cases occurs among the over-65s.

Younger people are currently less likely to have been vaccinated and are thus more likely to contract the disease. For most of them, fortunately, it will just resemble a bad cold or a bout of flu. This has always been the case.

Combined with the large numbers of people who have had Covid and recovered — or perhaps were not even aware that they had been infected in the first place — the vaccines mean the population of Britain now has remarkably high levels of full immunity . . . perhaps up to some 94 per cent of adults in England.

Così, given all this, I do believe it is not too optimistic to hope that the virus has almost run its course in England.

We will never entirely eradicate it — ‘Zero Covid’ will remain a fantasy. Ma, at least in this country, the worst of the pandemic is long over, and the end is very much in sight.

Philip Thomas is visiting academic professor at Bristol University.

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