Boris Johnson resists ‘Plan B’ as Sage predict lower hospital admissions (PA)

Scientists advising on the response to coronavirus have cautiously predicted that it is “increasingly unlikely” that hospital admissions this winter will rise beyond numbers seen last January, Press Association has reported.

This comes as Boris Johnson resists adapting to ‘Plan B’ restrictions.

The Sage scientists warned that despite its prediction, a “rapid increase in hospital admissions” could happen if behaviour swiftly returns to normal and the reduction of vaccines’ effectiveness is significant.

If action is taken quickly, the need for “more stringent, disruptive and longer-lasting measures” would be significantly reduced, Sage concluded.

Policy work on possible reintroduction of restrictions “should be undertaken now” they urged, so if required they can be ready for “rapid deployment”.

The meeting of Sage on October 14 highly influenced the Government’s plans as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resisting pressure to impose ‘Plan B’ to stop rapid spread of the virus in autumn and winter.

Covid-19 case rates (PA)

Sage said the modelling does not consider the burden from flu and other viruses or the emergency of new variants.

They wrote: “Although there remains uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of any future resurgence, these scenarios suggest hospital admissions above those seen in January 2021 are increasingly unlikely, particularly in 2021.”

The scenarios sage use assume that the current rollout of booster vaccinations will be “rapid” and will have a high uptake.

The group have warned if people change behaviours then this could be a major problem for the spread of covid-19.

“A slower return to pre-pandemic behaviours and reduced waning are both expected to reduce and delay any further wave, although there remains potential for a rapid increase in hospital admissions if behaviours change quickly, and if waning is more significant and occurs after boosting,” they wrote.

The reintroduction of working from home guidance is likely to have “the greatest individual impact” on transmission, despite the fact there has been a “decrease in self-reported precautionary behaviours such as wearing a face covering”.

“Sage advised that policy work on the potential reintroduction of measures should be undertaken now so that it can be ready for rapid deployment, stressing the importance of reintroducing measures in combination, supported by clear communication, consistent implementation that avoids creating barriers to adherence, and clear triggers for deployment,” they added.