JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Good News! Many Vax Mandates end in England, Ireland, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Denmark

It’s a miracle. Common sense. For the first time in two years government rules are shrinking.

A lot of this is thanks to Omicron, the gift from Africa.

In terms of infections the UK is past the peak, but most of Europe is a viral Firestorm. France just recorded a half a million new Covid cases in a single day, and with a test positivity of 31% awesome percent. Something like 1 – 3% of the entire French nation caught Covid yesterday.

All the past awful waves shrink before Omicron. | Source OWID

Despite the bonfire of cases, the deaths are lower than any wave:

A glorious contrast in graphs:

Deaths per million in Europe | OWID ..

With the disaster averted in the hospitals, suddenly political leaders are changing tune. We might think this is all just thanks to the magic of Omicronic nicety, but cases are still rising in places like Denmark and France and yet the Governments are already pulling back. That’s surely thanks to the pressure of mass protests. Without that pain and anger, political leaders wouldn’t be acting so early.

Though it helps that millions of people are catching Omicron and […]

Finally the numbers: Omicron is one tenth as severe as Delta. Good news

We finally reached a turning point with Omicron that suggests we have it’s measure.

We couldn’t know if the South African experience would translate to the overweight, indoor and diabetic parts of the world given 60% in South Africa had already had Covid — plus it was summer, and that part of the world is more familiar with certain anti-virals which must not be named.

But the news from the UK is about as good as we could have hoped. And Hallalujah, restrictions are being wound back in the UK.

Hurrah! It’s three doses of Covid cheer as UK cases continue to plunge, Plan B curbs may soon be lifted

DailyMail, UK

Modeling Omicron UK Daily Mail

 

And on hospitalizations

The hospitalization curve in the UK has just (maybe) started to decline, and if there are no surprises, then Omicron is roughly kinda 10% as severe as Delta was.

Modelling Hospitalizations in the UK. Omicron

 

I know some will feel that this is no news at all and we could see this coming for weeks. But bear in mind that in South Africa, the country far ahead of us all, the deaths […]

Omicron looking less deadly, but South Africa has a lot of natural immunity

The short: Get excited but not too excited yet.

Omicron is not putting as many people in the ICU as Delta did (so far) which is very promising, but it’s still early days, and in South Africa 60% of urban adults have already had Covid so carry the best kind of protection there is. In the UK, only 20% of the population carry these antibodies. In Australia, which has some of the most extensive testing in the world, only 0.8% of the whole population has tested positive.

Omicron appears to be fiercely contagious, which may turn out to be a good thing because it will replace the Delta strain at lightning speed. The spread is just extraordinary. Up to 4,000 Britons are catching Omicron each day, about 10% of Covid cases in the UK are already Omicron, and many of those are children. Projections are that Omicron may have completely displaced Delta by New Year in the UK. But even if hospitalizations are a third as likely, it could still overwhelm hospitals.

Hospitalizations are up 80% in South Africa in the last week. But cases in the original Gauteng region have leveled off, and are already starting to fall.

I’m […]

Is Omicron the vaccine we’ve been waiting for?

Omicron is a superspreader, but so far behaving better than expected

It appears Omicron will replace Delta around the world. Not only has it rapidly replaced Delta in South Africa, there have now been three superspreader events in Norway, one of which infected 120 people, and another one in Denmark that infected 52.

Omicron is acting for all the world like the same cluster spreading Covid we know so well. And of course, it is happily shed and spread by both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. Quick, lock one of them up?

South African Covid Cases | Source: OWID

With 16,000 cases a day, and test-positivity up to 25%, there is no doubt there is a real and rampant wave of infections.

All over the world epidemiologists and doctors are watching for hospitalization statistics from South Africa. What is promising are the change in symptoms:

South Africa Fuels Omicron Hope as Hospitalizations in Check

In another encouraging sign, the Steve Biko and Tshwane District Hospital Complex in Pretoria, South Africa, said that most patients in the Covid wards didn’t require oxygen. That marks a departure from previous waves.

_MSN

There are conflicting […]

Omicron — Probably has been circulating and developing in Africa for months

The media headlines have been everywhere, but the truth is we know very little.

Like everyone here, I was surprised at the *universal* instant Omicron media coverage which went from 0 – 100 in two seconds or less. I’m going to skip (for the moment) the obvious political questions like “is this the midterm election variant” and consider the virus.

We know Omicron has many mutations. We don’t know what the combined effect of them is. Presumably the particular mutations, and lab tests of antibody binding suggest it may evade vaccine or even natural immunity. However, many of these mutations are new and unknown, so the in vivo, real effect is only something the patients and doctors might know. And the doctors are giving mixed reports in South Africa. It may turn out to be a more infectious but nicer variant. We’ll know in a few weeks.

It’s certainly spreading fast. Case numbers have increased six-fold from 300 cases to 1,800 in just two weeks. Test numbers are up but test positivity has also risen from 1% to 3.7%.

Symptoms have changed. Doctors say that they noticed a change in the presentation of cases around 10 days […]