17 Jun COVID-19: Third wave coming as Delta variant surges, but scientists unable to make firm predictions | UK News
If there was any doubt that we are heading towards a third wave then Wednesday’s daily infection total should go some way towards dispelling those uncertainties.
The trend upwards has been exponential. Since May, the Delta variant has been driving a surge in COVID infections.
That is why the prime minister was forced to delay “Freedom Day”. The spike was expected to continue upwards and it has.
The question being asked is what it means in terms of hospital admissions and deaths. The short answer is both will follow.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said so last week when he stood next to Boris Johnson at the Downing Street briefing.
There is usually a 10-day lag between infections and hospitalisations. We are already seeing hospital admissions rise in some areas of the country.
But let us keep this in some context. We are unlikely to see the numbers reach the levels of the first and second waves. We can thank the vaccine programme for that.
The modelling presented to Boris Johnson predicted a surge big enough to put pressure on the NHS, if he went ahead with his original date of 21 June to remove all restrictions.
But we must also recognise that every hospital admission means a bed taken up and capacity reduced.
Only very sick people need treatment in hospital, even if they are not there for an extended time.
For so long we have talked about this virus targeting the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Wednesday’s 9,000 infections reminds us there are still some 10 million adults who have not had their first vaccine dose.
A senior government scientist told me this week “the virus has a way of finding unvaccinated adults and infecting them”.
She was one of the many scientists I have been talking and listening to this week.
They all talk about uncertainty, that not enough is known about the Delta variant to make definite predictions.
We cannot say exactly what will happen in the coming weeks, they tell me.
But we have the vaccine on our side and that is the game-changer.