Modellers have not included data from South Africa suggesting the Omicron variant is milder than previous strains of Covid-19, according to Graham Medley, chair of SAGE’s modelling committee and professor infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LHST).
In a Twitter exchange with The Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, Medley explained that best-case scenarios where Omicron is less lethal than the Delta variant are unnecessary.
He said modellers have been told to establish data to inform governments in case of more severe outcomes.
He said “decision-makers are only interested in scenarios where decisions have to be made” and that modellers “model what we are asked to model” by lawmakers.
This follows LHSTM publishing modelling last week calling for more restrictions.
Nelson contrasted this outlook with an investor note from JP Morgan pointing out if the Omicron variant adjusted in line with data from South Africa – bed occupancy from Covid-19 patients at the end of January would be a third of the peak seen in January 2021, which would be manageable without further restrictions this winter.
When questioned about its lack of inclusion in current UK models, Medley tweeted: “What would be the point of that?”
He argued best-case scenarios “do not inform anything.”
The exchange is particularly topical this week, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly mulling over ‘Plan C’ measures that limit indoor mixing – while SAGE is urging for restrictions before Christmas.
Its latest published papers warn of potentially 6,000 deaths a day without restrictions.
England reported a record-breaking 906,656 jabs including 830,000 boosters on Sunday.
82,866 Covid-19 cases were reported on Sunday, a drop on Saturday’s figures of over 90,000 and below the three record-breaking days between Wednesday and Friday.
However, cases remain generally high, with Sunday typically reporting lower numbers than other days of the week.
Relevant segments of the discussion are posted below: