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Good morning. And completely satisfied new yr to everybody.

Or completely satisfied new yr (medium confidence), as they may put it in a Sage report, utilizing the usual method scientists apply to point out how assured they’re in regards to the judgments they make. (It’s not a behavior that foyer correspondents have adopted, though maybe we should always.)

Medium confidence might be additionally great way of summing up Prof Neil Ferguson’s total temper when he was interviewed on the Right this moment programme this morning. Ferguson, the Imperial Faculty epidemiologist whose modelling is carefully adopted by authorities, mentioned he was “cautiously optimistic” that the Omicron pandemic might have plateaued in London (the place instances have been highest) amongst the under-50s. He advised the programme:


I feel I’m cautiously optimistic that an infection charges in London in that key 18-50 age group, which has been driving the Omicron epidemic, might probably have plateaued, it’s too early to say whether or not they’re happening but.

And that is what he mentioned when he was requested whether or not he thought, total, the impact of Omicron was as unhealthy as initially feared, or whether or not it was higher. He replied:


I feel the excellent news right here is it’s actually much less extreme. We predict, in the event you’ve by no means been contaminated earlier than, by no means had a vaccine, [there is] a few one third drop within the threat of simply any hospital admission, most likely a two thirds drop within the threat of dying from Omicron. So [it is] considerably much less extreme. And that has helped us undoubtedly. We might be seeing a lot larger an infection case numbers in hospital in any other case.

And vaccines, as we at all times anticipated they might, are holding up towards extreme outcomes nicely.

Properly that doesn’t imply it’s not going to be, because the prime minister mentioned, a troublesome few weeks for the NHS.

This will likely not sound definitive, however Ferguson sounded noticeably extra assured immediately about Omicron being much less extreme than Delta than he was two weeks ago, when Imperial Faculty revealed early analysis on this matter.

I’ll publish extra from his interview shortly.

Right here is the agenda for the day.

11am: Keir Starmer delivers his speech in Birmingham. As Aubrey Allegretti studies, Starmer will use it to launch his plan to maintain the momentum of Labour’s poll lead in the runup to the next election.

11.30am: Downing Road holds a foyer briefing.

Right this moment I can be focusing totally on UK Covid developments and on Starmer’s speech. For wider Covid protection, do learn our international stay weblog.

I attempt to monitor the feedback under the road (BTL) however it’s unattainable to learn all of them. You probably have a direct query, do embrace “Andrew” in it someplace and I’m extra more likely to discover it. I do attempt to reply questions, and if they’re of normal curiosity, I’ll publish the query and reply above the road (ATL), though I can’t promise to do that for everybody.

If you wish to appeal to my consideration rapidly, it’s most likely higher to make use of Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to e mail me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com



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