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  • Writer's pictureRichard Cree

Plan B

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

8th December 2021

UK COVID Deaths – Daily 161 / 7-Day average 121

Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 145,987

Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 170,001 (up to 26 Nov)

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 716

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 56

James Cook Critical Care

COVID cases – 6 (5 ventilated)

Non-COVID cases – 46 (26 ventilated)


It’s been quite a day for COVID-related news. The big banner headline is that Plan B will shortly be implemented and it’s all Omicron’s fault. Plan B involves advising the public to work from home where possible, more mask-wearing and the use of the NHS COVID pass for entry into large venues such as nightclubs.


Restrictions have been reintroduced following the discovery that the number of cases due to the highly-infectious Omicron variant is doubling every two to three days. There is no doubt that we will see infections soar over the next few weeks and that Omicron will quickly replace the Delta variant as the top dog.


The other big story is the continued furore regarding the Downing Street Christmas Party. The party in question was held last December, at a time when Christmas gatherings were banned in London and in many other parts of the country. The Government has insisted that no rules were broken during the ‘small, socially-distanced, cheese-and-wine, definitely-not-a-party, business meeting’ but no-one believes a word of it. The irony of instructing the public to follow the rules whilst simultaneously defending breaking them seems completely lost on the Prime Minister.

The final piece of news is that, from today, the booster vaccination programme is now open to those over 40. The time period between the second and third doses was shortened last month from six to five months and has now been shortened further to three months. Boosting the booster programme aims to protect as many people as possible from the imminent wave of Omicron infections and reduce pressure on the health service.


What isn’t yet clear is just how many hospital admissions we might expect to see. The first laboratory study from South Africa confirms, as suspected, that Omicron is able to evade vaccines better than the Delta variant. The study found that in those who had been vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, exposure to the Omicron variant produced neutralising antibody levels that were 25 times lower when compared to the original ‘Wuhan’ strain. To put this in perspective, exposure to the Delta variant produces five times fewer neutralising antibodies than infection with the original strain.


To be honest, whilst this isn’t great news, it is better than many people expected. What is reassuring is that Omicron’s many mutations have not occurred in the part of the virus that is targeted by T-cells and so there is a hope that the T-cell immunity produced by previous infection or vaccination will be left intact, helping to maintain protection against severe illness.


Even more reassuring is the finding that a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine may restore this lost protection. A third dose provides a similar level of neutralizing antibodies against Omicron that you see after two doses against other variants. A third dose also serves to further boost your existing T-cell immunity.


So, the best current prediction suggests that, whilst vaccination may not offer much protection against mild disease, a booster dose should offer very good protection against severe disease. So, if you haven’t had one yet, you need to quickly move ‘booster vaccine’ to the top of your Christmas list.


At the hospital, things have remained relatively calm. The number of COVID infections on Teesside is still lower than the national average and the number of COVID patients being admitted to the hospital has been slowly decreasing. The number of Critical Care patients, both COVID and non-COVID, has not changed much over the past fortnight and, if it weren’t for Omicron, we might even be relaxing a little bit.


We all know we are not in for a happy New Year. How soon and how fast hospital admissions will rise is unclear at the moment. Fortunately, Omicron does not appear to cause more severe disease than its Delta counterpart and there are signs that it may even be milder. Unfortunately, a more infectious, less severe disease can still wreak havoc. As Joseph Stalin used to say, “quantity has a quality all of its own.”



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14 Σχόλια


rick.rwbarnes
13 Δεκ 2021

Is the latest push for the 3rd dose going to be soon enough to keep numbers in hospital low? It takes time for immunity to build up. Is that going to be faster than the hospitalisation from the new strain?

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
13 Δεκ 2021
Απάντηση σε

Hi Rick. There will be a delay between vaccination and immunity. Hopefully not much more than a week given that this is the third dose and it is a top-up. However, I do worry that there will still be a significant number of people who will still not be protected by the time the New Year arrives. Dawn’s report of the relatively small number of hospital admissions (thank you Dawn) gives us some hope that some of the ‘worst case scenarios’ might not come to pass. We’ll know more in the next week or so. Cheers, Rich

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peter.nms
10 Δεκ 2021

Hi Richard,


Thank you for the update again. I see from the stats that the decline in cases and admissions has at best plateaued and is rising, especially in London.


There is an article on CNN from a Michigan hospital where only 64% have been vaccinated and nearly all coming in to die of Covid are of course not vaccinated, some might have legitimate reasons, others are problem Trump loons. Sadly Omicron will hammer the health care professionals even more.


https://edition.cnn.com/2021/12/09/us/hospital-covid-19-deaths-michigan/index.html


I hate to think where we will be this time next month, I suspect not in a very good place at all.


Do you know how Omicron is more transmissible? Does it last longer in the air or does…


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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
13 Δεκ 2021
Απάντηση σε

Thanks Peter. Today general ICU is running at nearly 130% of our usual ventilated bed capacity. We can only dream of 95%! Cheers, Richard

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nicky.huntley69
10 Δεκ 2021

Great to hear that covid admissions reducing Richard. Hopefully this will help management of the usual winter pressures along with backlog for other key services. Wishing you all the best for 2022 and hopefully an end to all this madness soon 🤞

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Richard Cree
Richard Cree
11 Δεκ 2021
Απάντηση σε

Thanks Nicky. I fear that the lull in COVID cases will not last very long. Even the last few days have seen the number of people being admitted to hospital stop falling I fear that they are about to rise again. I hope I’m wrong! Cheers, Richard

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dustybloke
10 Δεκ 2021

The only medical reason for plan B is to reduce physical damage to the face of a fat politician or possibly other parts of his anatomy.


COVID is a fig-leaf here.

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kselby68
09 Δεκ 2021

Let’s face it it’s all bollocks

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judysimpson1
11 Δεκ 2021
Απάντηση σε

Indeed! This illustrates the importance of EVERYONE being vaccinated. Unvaccinated people are unnecessarily taking up ICU beds and preventing other treatments going ahead!

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