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Plan B shows Britain is still chasing Covid. Here’s how we can get ahead of it | Devi Sridhar

New measures to tackle Omicron are weeks late – while the UK is lagging on vaccinating children and a balanced approach to travel

The Omicron variant is now in 57 countries. And that’s countries that have sequencing ability to find it. Even in Britain, estimates are that the hundreds of confirmed Omicron cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Given how fast it has spread globally, its probable increased transmissibility even compared with Delta, and the many mutations in this variant, this is another step change in the pandemic. And one in which governments again have to manage how a wave of infections would affect their health services, where staff are already hitting the emergency button and saying they can’t take on more patients. The good news is that vaccines (especially boosters) seem to be holding up well against Omicron so far. The bad news is that a more transmissible variant will find unvaccinated people faster, and infect more people. While the link between cases and hospitalisations is weakened, it is not broken.

I recently joined a call with NHS clinical colleagues who have been running Covid-19 wards and managing wave after wave in hospital since March 2020. Their words were stark. Staff are exhausted. Burned out. Medical professionals not only have to cope with difficult shifts, large patient loads and public sector pay, but also risking their own health and that of their families. One nurse recounted caring for a fit and healthy woman in her 30s who hadn’t been vaccinated and was now on a ventilator. She sees little compliance with masks in shops, or any kind of infection control measures in society. One world in hospitals where the pandemic is still raging. One world outside where the UK government prematurely announced victory over Covid-19 on “freedom day” last summer.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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