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Covid now comparable to flu, may turn endemic post Omicron: UK professor

Covid now comparable to flu, may turn endemic post Omicron: UK professor
January 11
15:59 2022

London, Jan 11 (IANS) The UK may be on the brink of beating the Covid-19 pandemic, with daily deaths currently running at less than half the rate expected in a bad flu year, the media reported.

According to Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert from the University of East Anglia, the Covid pandemic will become ‘endemic’ after Omicron wave subsides in the country, provided no other variants emerge, Daily Mail reported.

Yet Hunter noted that Covid would “almost certainly” get weaker every year as people develop natural immunity and eventually become a common cold that kills only the very vulnerable further down the line.

“Once we’re past this Omicron peak, excluding another unexpected variant that reverses all of our progress, then we’ll be close to the point of endemic,” he was quoted as saying.

Currently, about 130 people are dying from the Covid every day in England at what is believed to be the peak of the Omicron outbreak, compared to 1,300 last January before vaccines were widely available, the report said.

While infection rates more than quadrupled since September following the emergence of the ultra-transmissible variant, daily deaths have barely changed during the same period.

On the other hand, government estimates show there were more than 400 influenza deaths per day at the peak of the last bad flu season in 2017/18, and almost 300 daily fatalities the previous year.

Just like this winter, hospitals were forced to cancel routine operations and patients were told to steer clear of A&E units during both of those outbreaks, the report said.

The figures showed that the burden of Covid is now comparable to flu, Hunter said.

Hunter’s comments came as top experts today claimed that the end of the Covid crisis was “in sight” and UK ministers claimed Britain is on a path to “living with” the virus.

David Nabarro, from the World Health Organization, said the coronavirus would pose a very difficult situation for the next three months “at least” but insisted “we can see the end in sight”.

Meanwhile, Professor Graham Medley, No10’s chief modeller, warned Covid “can’t be an emergency forever” as he said “government decisions” would need to be made about scrapping mass free testing and vaccinations, the report said.

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