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
This entry was posted in Covid-19. Bookmark the permalink.

5 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.

  2. John Doll says:

    Hi Clive,
    I’m reading your entire site by the looks of it, and I will once again contribute to correct little details.
    The AstraZeneca can hardly be called a traditional vaccine like the smallpox one.
    AZ is a adeno virus vector vaccine, meaning as i understand it is a chimpanzee adeno virus modified to include some spike protein of the Sars-Cov…virus.
    Traditional vaccines are either Louis Pasteur type “Deactivated” versions of the virus they are to immunise against or like the smallpox vaccine a slightly different but similar enough to train the immune system viruses (cowpox, horsepox).
    Both the vector and mRNA vaccines are technologies that have been tried to be used for some 30 years on every virus one can name. All of those trials were failures.
    One has quite incredulous to think both technologies were perfected in 1 year for the covid vaccines
    I’m a born sceptic, and respect the scientific method when applied in accordance.
    AZ sells their vaccine “at cost”. A few of the vaccines that preety much eradicated serious diseases were released patent free by their creators, hence were cheap to deliver.
    Pfizer mRNA vaccine is a trade secret, so much, that even the medical trials that were used to have them approved the various governing bodies (FDA and such), where conducted entirely by Pfizer, no double blind studies, no peer review. That is outrageous and not the scientific method.
    For anybody interested in finding out more just google “Peter Doshi” Phd, he is the editor of the oldest and prestigious medical journal “British medical journal”.
    Professor Doshi is one of the very few level headed, rigorously scientific voices speaking of the whole covid situation.

    • Clive Best says:

      Point taken. AZ is based on an a modified adenoviruses (cold like) with the spike protein inserted.
      By traditional I mean a foreign virus enters out blood stream triggering an immune response.

      mRNA vaccines AFAIK instruct our own cells to produce the spike protein which then triggers an immune response to destroy them.

      • John Doll says:

        I agree, the vector vaccine is a lot more like a traditional vaccine than mRNA ones.
        But I must remember that AZ is not a natural virus, nor is it a version of a natural virus that has been “evolved” in a lab to be less dangerous “deactivated”, the adeno virus in this case has been genetically modified to contain the corona spike protein and also to not reproduce in humans.
        That’s whole lot playing God with things we still don’t completely understand, in my opinion.
        As an interesting titbit, the US has spent big $ on vaccinating every soldier since the 70s against the adeno virus. In this case the human adeno virus.
        All the previous attempts at making adeno vector vaccines used the human adeno virus. I wonder if having the US army vaccinated against the human adeno is why they chose to use the chimp one…
        The history of both vaccines is fascinating, I recommend for everyone to dig around and find those trial results from last 30 years.

Leave a Reply