People being hospitalised with Covid-19 in the United Kingdom are broadly showing less severe symptoms than before, the vaccine minister said this morning.
Minister for Vaccines and Public Health Maggie Throup told Sky News there was no need for further restrictions at this stage and that “Plan B” was working.
“At the moment, if you look at the people who have been hospitalised, they are going in with less severe conditions than before,” Throup said.
“The numbers that are in hospital beds is about half what it was a year ago – and that just shows the power of the vaccine.”
It comes after the Prime Minister avoided stringent lockdown measures in England ahead of New Year as Omicron spiked in the UK.
Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said that while infections in London in under-50s may have plateaued, the incredibly steep increase in that age group had not yet had time to spread to older age groups, which are more vulnerable to Covid-19.
“We may see a different pattern in hospitalisations. Hospitalisations are still generally going up across the country, and we may see high levels for some weeks,” he told BBC Radio.
“Vaccination is holding up in terms of protection against severe disease, assisted by the fact that Omicron almost certainly is substantially less severe, but it still puts pressures on the health system.”
While hospitalisations are rising they have not tracked the trajectory of daily cases, possibly reflecting the impact of vaccines and booster shots, the likely lower severity of Omicron and the time lag in people going into hospital, according to Reuters.
Although the cases are less severe, there has been a huge disruption to major services across the country due to staff absences.
The chief executive of food importer and retailer All Greens, David Josephs, warned the company could be forced to temporarily close outlets and redeploy staff following Covid-19 spikes.