Covid should now be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and ministers should end mass-vaccination after the booster campaign, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has said.
With health chiefs and senior Tories also lobbying for a post-pandemic plan for a straining NHS, Dr Clive Dix called for a major rethink of the UK’s Covid strategy, in effect reversing the approach of the last two years and returning to a “new normality”.
“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he said. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”
The Covid modellers at Imperial College have begun to back down. About time too. Over the past few weeks, they have made extreme claims about the omicron variant that cannot be fully justified by fundamental science, let alone by clinical observation.
It is very hard to tell the difference between Covid and a cold without testing
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, if you got a sniffle and a headache, you might dismiss it as an ordinary cold and carry on as normal, even if you felt a little rough around the edges. But during cold and flu season, how can you be sure it’s a cold and not the coronavirus?
The common cold is caused by a different strain of virus to Covid-19. But with the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant often causing mild symptoms, such as stuffy nose, sore head and sore throat, it is very hard to tell the difference without testing.
The risk of severe illness and death from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is extremely low in children and teenagers, according to the most comprehensive analyses of public health data, co-led by researchers at UCL.
However, Covid-19 increases the likelihood of serious illness in the most vulnerable young people, those with pre-existing medical conditions and severe disabilities, although these risks remain low overall.
The preliminary findings, published in three new pre-print studies led by UCL, the University of Bristol, University of York and the University of Liverpool, will be submitted to the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC)and the World Health Organisation (WHO), to inform vaccine and shielding policy for the under-18s. The studies did not look at the impact of long Covid.
Links from article:
- Full paper on medRxiv: Ward et al. *
- Full paper on ResearchSquare: Smith et al. **
- Full paper on medRxiv: Harwood et al. ***
- Professor Russell Viner’s academic profile
- Dr Joseph Ward’s academic profile
- UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
- UCL Population Health Sciences
The overall risk of children becoming severely ill or dying from Covid is extremely low, a new analysis of Covid infection data confirms.
Scientists from University College London, and the Universities of York, Bristol and Liverpool say their studies of children are the most comprehensive yet anywhere in the world.
They checked England’s public health data and found most of the young people who had died of Covid-19 had underlying health conditions:
Around 15 had life-limiting or underlying conditions, including 13 living with complex neuro-disabilities
Six had no underlying conditions recorded in the last five years – though researchers caution some illnesses may have been missed
A further 36 children had a positive Covid test at the time of their death but died from other causes, the analysis suggests
Though the overall risks were still low, children and young people who died were more likely to be over the age of 10 and of Black and Asian ethnicity.
Researchers estimate that 25 deaths in a population of some 12 million children in England gives a broad, overall mortality rate of 2 per million children.
25 CYP died of SARS-CoV-2 during the first pandemic year in England, equivalent to an infection fatality rate of 5 per 100,000 and a mortality rate of 2 per million. Most had an underlying comorbidity, particularly neurodisability and life-limiting conditions. The CYP who died were mainly >10 years and of Asian and Black ethnicity, compared to other causes of the death, but their absolute risk of death was still extremely low.
Prof Bhattacharya said: “If lockdown was a primary driver of good Covid outcomes Florida would have come out far worse. It is no good to say that it did not have variants – Florida had the Alpha and Delta variant. Lockdowns don’t protect against coronavirus. And they certainly have collateral harm. Children have suffered, especially poor children. Unemployment mental health all the harm is hard to ignore and it is very hard to find any benefit to lockdown measures.”
Common colds may prime the immune system against Covid, scientists believe, after finding that some people never develop an infection despite repeated exposure to the virus.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) have discovered that some people have natural protection against Covid and seem to fight off an infection using pre-existing memory T-cells.
Social distancing and wearing face masks should stay forever, a Communist-supporting SAGE scientist has claimed.
Professor Susan Michie, of University College London, said she thinks the draconian restrictions should become part of people’s every day routine.
Launching a programme of Covid-19 immunisations for children should be considered only in special circumstances, leading health experts have warned.
They say UK medical authorities, who are currently studying how vaccines for adolescents might be administered, should move with great care over the implementation of such a programme.
Doctors are now being told to look out for signs of the most common type of stroke following the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, after three British patients were admitted to hospital and one died.
Two women in their 30s and a man in his 40s suffered ischaemic strokes after having the vaccine.
Previous reports of rare blood clots from the jab have specifically involved cerebral venous thrombosis – a rare form of stroke caused by the blockage of specific veins.
Just 851.2 people per 100,000 died last month – the lowest figure since the ONS started recording mortality rates in 2001. At the height of the first wave of the Covid pandemic last April, death rates were 1,859 per 100,000.
The latest figures show that 38,899 people died in April – 6.1 per cent fewer than the five-year average.
Just 2.4 per cent of all deaths mentioned Covid on the death certificate, a 77.6 per cent decrease from March and the largest month-on-month decline since the pandemic began.
The new data provide more evidence that the NHS is in little danger of being overwhelmed in the near future, with deaths from most causes lower than normal. Covid is now the ninth most common cause of death in England and Wales, behind conditions including heart disease, dementia, several cancers and influenza.
I won’t have been the only parent concerned by news last week that the Pfizer vaccine may be approved for use on children as early as June and potentially rolled out to school pupils from September. Healthy children are at almost no serious risk from Covid-19 – the recovery rate for this age group has been calculated at over 99.99 per cent. The argument that children should have the vaccine is not based on a belief that they need or benefit from it but on the logic that it would be good for our communities at large if children were jabbed. In short, those advocating it assume that children have an obligation to protect adults.
It’s worth noting that the UK Government has granted immunity from liability for harms to all Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers. Can we really ask children to accept a greater risk than the manufacturers themselves are prepared to live with?
Trademark symptoms of seasonal flu could be mistaken for symptoms of Covid-19, it is claimed
People with common colds who are testing positive for Covid-19 may simply be asymptomatic cases, experts have said.
Trademark symptoms of seasonal flu could be mistaken for symptoms of Covid-19 if the individual tests positive for the virus, it is claimed.
More than eight in ten people who test positive for coronavirus show none of the main symptoms at the time they are tested, a major study by UCL previously revealed.
- Scientists should not be involved in devising and implementing policies.
- The window of opportunity to suppress the virus is gone.
- The toll on public health caused by closed borders will be absolutely awful.
- Indefinite suppression may not have ever been an option.
- Vaccines may be helpful but won’t be a silver bullet.
- The virus is here to stay.
- Vaccines may be effective in reducing symptoms but we can’t gamble on an infection blocking vaccine.
- Some vaccines aren’t always suitable for the entire population.
- Banking everything on a vaccine is not a reasonable approach.
- National level measures are not convincing; targeted measures have more potential.
- Communication has been problematic so public trust has been lost.
- Fear over a long period of time is physiologically unhealthy and doesn’t ever just evaporate.
- The cost of allowing people to choose their own risk-level would be much lower than the current blanket proposals.
- Well-targeted testing can be extremely effective but mass testing in schools is not a good use of tests.
- The ‘medicalization’ of society is worrying.
- Blanket testing of asymptomatic people is completely new and presents multiple ethical problems.
- Proportion of asymptomatic cases for 2009 influenza pandemic was around 50%-75%; this is similar to what we’re finding COVID-19.
- COVID-19 is not so different from other viruses but the global approach is completely different.
- Normalising the mass testing of otherwise healthy testing is very dangerous.
- There’s not much to be gained from comparing the measures and results between countries; the move to technocracy is dangerous.
- Whole societies should not turn around public health.
- A constant climate of fear is counter-productive.
- There were other countries that took a similar approach to Sweden, such as Switzerland.
- Past pandemics have been comparable to COVID-19 but did not have the same response.
- Outbreaks in care homes is nothing new.
- The pandemic phase of COVID-19 should eventually be over by mid to end of 2021 and in all likelihood become endemic.
- The most important message: COVID-19 presents a severe health crisis but it is not a ‘new normal.’
Professor Russell Viner, from University College London, demanded schools should instead remain fully open in the face of a second wave and cease their ‘flip-flopping’ between closures and openings which are ‘harming’ the education of youngsters.
He was speaking after his recently published study revealed those under 20 are 44 per cent less likely to be infected with the virus than adults.
…’We need to be thinking: “Are we testing too many children?” because of our understandable but probably unscientific and misplaced concerns about children being infected in schools.’
People with dementia accounted for a quarter of all Covid-related deaths in England and Wales, and three-quarters of all deaths in care facilities globally, data shows.
The London School of Economics and University College London are looking at the mortality rate of those with dementia in a regularly updated report. According to their research, up to 75% of Covid-19 deaths globally in care facilities are those with dementia as an underlying condition.
Almost 60 per cent of staff infected with coronavirus continued to work and commute
- Exposure to Covid-19 is similar in Stockholm and London, based on antibody tests, despite different lockdown strategies.
- The research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that 17% of people tested in April in Stockholm had developed antibodies.
- This compares with 17% of Londoners tested in April and May, and 5%-10% of people living in Geneva.
A fifth of vulnerable people in Britain thought about self-harming or killing themselves during lockdown, according to research shared with the Guardian, as a series of inquests underline the mental health toll of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Findings from University College London reveal that 8,000 out of 44,000 people surveyed (18%) reported thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and 42% had accessed support services. A further 5% said they had harmed themselves at least once since the start of the UK’s lockdown.