We’re into the second week after the New Year and so now is probably a good time to have a look at the detailed COVID data
Over the past few days we’ve seen a steady fall in the average reported new cases. It does look like cases have peaked.
The rolling average of new cases fell by about 8% today and today’s cases at 120,821 were 44.76% down on last Tuesday.
There is usually a lag for hospital admission data with it taking between 6-10 days for reported cases to turn into admissions. Current admission data takes us up to the 6th January so it will be a few more days before we can say for certain that case reduction is translating into hospitalisations. However, first of all we can see evidence of a peak beginning
Secondly, we have more up to date data on inpatient numbers and numbers on ICU.
Whilst in patient numbers have continued to increase the rate has begun to slow and ICU numbers have continued to remain low and even fall a little. Even more encouragingly the % of patients on mechanical ventilation has fallen from 12% to 4.1% in a month. This provides evidence that a lower proportion of admissions are leading to severe illness requiring ICU treatment.
I would project daily admissions to fall back below 2000 per day to around about 1800 daily within the next 6-10 days.
The lag time for deaths is longer still and so we are only beginning to see the effects on the data here from the Omicron wave. Deaths have been increasing since Christmas though nowhere near the previous peaks.
The chart below shows projected deaths looking forward 1 month from case reported dates. As you can see, I am projecting deaths to peak at around 260 per day in early February.
The overall outlook seems to be that we have now passed the peak of the Omicron wave. The lag time for admissions means that we are still going to be in the danger zone over the next week or two. Further there will be regional variations and the NHS will be further stretched by staff shortages. However, it does look like the peak in cases and admissions is coming earlier and lower than some of the scenarios that were presented back in December. This does not invalidate those scenarios/models as it is crucial to know what the worst case might look like.
Of course we can never say when the next variant of concern will emerge or where nor do we know whether the next VOC will be milder, more severe or the same as Omicron. With those caveats in mind though, we are in a more positive position than many expected to be in January (and in some cases that was even without Omicron).
The media are predicting that the next major long term announcement from the PM on living with COVID will come in March. I would expect some interim announcements along the way leading to some of the restrictions we have seen being lifted across all parts of the UK though I expect the rules to remain more stringent in Wales and Scotland than in England even after the worst of the Omicron wave has subsided.