'Lockdown' professor: Risk of third UK Covid wave is now 'substantial'

Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, whose modeling was instrumental in the UK lockdown in March 2020, said new modeling data presented to the government suggests the risk of a “significant third wave” of coronavirus infections in the UK.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Prof. Ferguson said the data compiled by SPI-M – a subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) – suggests that the third wave may not be as severe as the second wave in January. depending on the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines.

He said, “Basically, it (the modeling) states that there is a risk of a significant third wave, (but) we cannot definitively determine the extent of this – it could be much lower than or of the same order of magnitude as the second wave.

“That depends crucially on how effective the vaccines are still protecting people from hospitalization and death against the Delta variant (Indian) and some other unknowns.”

Prof. Ferguson said the doubling time of the Indian (Delta) variant in the UK is just under seven days while the R (reproduction number) estimate is between 1.5 and 1.6.

He said: “The key question is how long it will double because we are starting at a very low level and have great immunity in the population against vaccinations and those infected in the past.”

Prof. Ferguson said delaying the full reopening on June 21 would make a difference as “it would allow more people to have a second dose”.

He said there was “pretty good data” on the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in terms of hospital admissions, which were “in the range of 90 to 95%” for the alpha variant (UK) and “around 90% for the delta variant % “Lie (Indian) variant.

Prof. Ferguson said the modeling suggests there are benefits to “getting more vaccines into more arms as it reduces the magnitude of every third wave”.

He said, “I think more critically, over the next two or three weeks, we’ll be in a better position to really refine these estimates by saying, ‘OK, these early projections may have been too optimistic or pessimistic’. … and that is driven solely by the observation of hospital stays and unfortunately also some deaths. “

When asked whether a four-week delay in the schedule could possibly have an additional benefit from the school being closed for the summer vacation, Prof. Ferguson said that the vacation “would slightly reduce contact with the population and this would offset an increase from attendance” Step four (the UK roadmap) ”.

He said there is currently no evidence that the Delta variant (Indian) “infects children differently”.

Prof. Ferguson said, “As we vaccinate the elderly, transmission is sustained by the younger people in the population, including children.”

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