- SPI-MO says large future waves of infection should be active.
- The Omicron variant caused a recent spike in COVID-19 infections.
- SPI-MO says the coming years will be very uncertain.
LONDON: There is a realistic possibility of large waves of COVID-19 infection in Britain in the future and such waves could even be considered likely, said epidemiologists modeling the COVID-19 pandemic to provide government advice.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ditched legal restrictions in England, saying that while the pandemic was not over yet, Britain must learn to live with COVID.
The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-MO) said the emergence of new viral variants was the largest unknown factor in the medium to long term, along with declining population immunity and changes in mixing patterns.
“Large future waves of infection that require active management to avoid adverse pressures on the health and care sector are at least a realistic possibility (high confidence) or probable (medium confidence),” SPI-MO said in a consensus statement published Friday. .
Britain has reported 157,730 deaths from COVID-19, the seventh highest total in the world, and Johnson has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic, which has led to three national lockdowns.
The Omicron variant spiked infections to new heights late last year, prompting Johnson to reintroduce some limited measures, but deaths didn’t rise at the same pace.
He has now fully reopened the economy, citing the country’s program of booster shots, the availability of antivirals and the lower severity of the Omicron variant, as it breaks the link between infections and deaths.
England returned to Plan A last week, and the SPI-MO chairman said: Reuters that while the COVID situation should improve every year, there may be times when the government needs to backtrack and take action.
“The coming years will be very uncertain, and future outbreaks and waves are likely to be noisy as things settle down,” the SPI-MO statement said.
“A stable, predictable pattern… can last for many years to come.”