Omicron heads for Herd Immunity ?

ONS announced today that an incredible 1 in 15 people in England would have tested positive on New Year’s eve for Omicron. They estimated this figure by randomly testing a sample of the population. That equates to 3.7 million people. Clearly the majority of these cases must be asymptomatic. It also implies that many of those previously vaccinated (80%) are now being infected with Omicron mostly with minor or no symptoms. Hospitalisations remain far lower than last year’s peak. The only good news is that Omicron now seems to be displacing the more serious delta variant.

The main problem we face is the loss of key workers due to self-isolation rules following a positive lateral flow test causing knock on disruption in hospitals, schools, transport and bin collection etc.

Hopefully many of those who already have received vaccines/boosters or have previously recovered from past infections are already immune. To reach classic herd immunity otherwise would need about 20 million people in total to be infected and “recover”.


About Clive Best

PhD High Energy Physics Worked at CERN, Rutherford Lab, JET, JRC, OSVision
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2 Responses to Omicron heads for Herd Immunity ?

  1. euanmearns says:

    Hi Clive, I’m still trying to work out what is going on. I copied this from the BBC a few days ago:

    “Over to Israel now, where the health authorities are seeing a huge surge in infections.

    Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world but the Omicron wave is what could see it reach Covid herd immunity, says the top health adviser.

    “But we don’t want to reach it by means of infections, we want it to happen as a result of many people [being vaccinated],” said Bachmann Ash.

    Modellers have warned that up to four million people could be infected by the end of January. Israel’s population is just over nine million.

    Herd immunity is a scientific term describing the point at which a population is protected from a disease, either by enough people being vaccinated or by people having developed antibodies by having the disease.

    Israel is offering a fourth Covid-19 vaccine to people over 60 as well as medical staff.

    (so everyone is vaccinated and yet half the population are going to get infected ? )”

    My take is that being triple jabbed offers little protection against omicron infection. Omicron is very infectious and that is why cases are running riot. We know people who have had Covid before who now have Omicron => prior infection offers little immunity too. I have suggested that Omicron is so different to SARS CoV2 that perhaps it should bee called SARS CoV3? But in fact it is neither severe nor acute. The disease caused by Omicron is also very different – bronchial as opposed to pulmonary – so we shouldn’t be calling this disease Covid 19, but perhaps Covid 21?

    Boris keeps telling us that 90% of those in intensive care are not vaccinated. My guess is that they are infected wth delta. My theory is that vaccine does not prevent serious illness from Omicron because Omicron does not cause serious illness.

    Everyone should remain vigilant. Virus concentration times time is one of the key concepts to quantify exposure. Ventilation is top of my list in reducing concentration of virus in the air – at home and every other public space.

    • Clive Best says:

      Hi Euan,

      “But we don’t want to reach it by means of infections, we want it to happen as a result of many people [being vaccinated],” said Bachmann Ash.

      As far as I know all vaccines are still only developed based on the original Wuhan strain. Biontech and AZ talked about adapting their vaccine to new strains such as Omnicorm but they don’t seem to have got that through the regulatory process. Boosters then just boost antibodies against alpha while protecting against serious disease. Israel’s 4th vaccination makes little sense to me. There is some evidence that AstraZeneca’s traditional vaccine actually gives better long term protection against serious illness than Pfizer because it is a traditional cow-pox like vaccine. MRNA vaccines instruct your cells to reproduce the spike protein so that your immune system learns how to attacks them. AZ seems to last longer and stimulate T-cell immune response. This may explain why the high infection rate in UK gives a far lower death rate than other EU countries.

      I think you’re right about Omicron evading existing vaccines but fortunately for us it is less severe.
      This nightmare has to end eventually and hopefully Omicron will finally end it for us all.

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