Delta plus won’t lead to summer of Covid chaos, say scientists

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told The Telegraph: “It remains difficult to predict exactly what will happen over the summer in the UK – we have good levels of immunity across the population, and summer means more outdoor time and less indoor social contact which should both reduce transmission.

“On the other hand, there were more restrictions in place during previous waves, including mask-wearing and various degrees of social distancing, which might mean that we should expect higher transmission.

“The situation overall likely implies some increased spread of BA.4/5 this summer but some reassuring data from other countries shows that we won’t see such an increase in hospital admissions as previously.”

‘Not overly worried’

When asked about delta plus on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Prof John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and Covid modeller from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he “is not overly worried” .

“I would have thought the coming wave will be no worse than we have had in the last few months, I suspect, at least,” he added. “Looking forward, for me, I’m not overly worried about this wave.”

Prof Majeed said he thinks the summer will be relatively unventful in terms of Covid.

“We’ve seen a slight uptick [in cases]he added. “I would say probably we will be okay over the next few months and I think we might see some uptick, but I think the protective effects of vaccination and prior infection will see us through the summer okay.

“The risk will probably come more towards the end of the year, particularly if people don’t come forward for their boosters when those are rolled out, although not all will get boosters this autumn.”

Government figures show 5,726 patients were in hospital in England with coronavirus on June 20, up by 24 per cent on the previous week but only around a third of the level reached at the peak of the BA.2 wave.

Hospital numbers in England and Wales had previously been on a steady downward trend since early April, following the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave of infections.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday showed 284 deaths involving coronavirus were registered in England and Wales in the week to June 10, up from 186 the previous week.

While this was the first increase in six weeks, it included deaths over the Platinum Jubilee weekend that could not be registered because council offices were closed.

‘Protection does one over time’

Although scientists expect the next few months to largely pass without incident, there is growing disquiet over who is eligible for autumn booster jabs.

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