Covid could ruin the next five Christmases, government body says in glum warning

Covid-19 could throw the next five Christmases into chaos, health experts have warned.

SPI-M-O, a government advising body, issued the stark warning in a meeting on November 24.

The group said: "It will take a long time for the virus to settle to its endemic state.

"The path to endemicity will be critically dependent on the rate of the waning of immunity and chosen policies on vaccination and boosting.

"SARS-CoV-2 will continue to be a threat to health system function and require active management, of which vaccination and surveillance are key, for at least the next five years."

Sage scientists warn: "Even if there continues to be good protection against severe disease for individuals from vaccination (including boosters), any significant reduction in protection against infection could still result in a very large wave of infections.

"This would in turn lead to potentially high numbers of hospitalisations even with protection against the severe disease being less affected.

"The size of this wave remains highly uncertain but may be of a scale that requires very stringent response measures to avoid unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

"If vaccine efficacy is substantially reduced, then a wave of severe disease should be expected."

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They add: "It is important to be prepared for a potentially very significant wave of infections with associated hospitalisations now, ahead of data being available."

Last Christmas was ruined by the tier system after the government took a U-turn on plans to allow families to visit each other and reinstated the rule of six.

In tiers, one to three, only three households could form a Christmas Day bubble but those trapped in tier 4 were not able to join with households or travel out of the area to see their loved ones.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not ruled out a similar lockdown for this festive season, but has promised he believes this Christmas will be significantly better than the last.

The news comes after a Singapore-based medic estimates that in three-to-six months the variant will become dominant and will require vaccines to be developed quickly.

  • Omicron Covid variant will 'dominate and overwhelm world within 6 months,' expert says

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However, vaccines need to be tested over three to six months to prove that they can provide immunity against the variant, Dr Leong Hoe Nam told CNBC.

He said: "Frankly, Omicron will dominate and overwhelm the whole world in three to six months."

But when asked about a vaccine specifically for the new variant, he added: "Nice idea, but honestly, it is not practical.

"We won't be able to rush out the vaccines in time and by the time the vaccines come, practically everyone will be infected omicron given this highly infectious and transmissibility."

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