We are delighted to be able to bring you some reliable, good news about Covid-19 in Bucks. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Infection Survey measures the number of people infected with Covid-19 in a very reliable way. Because the survey does not rely on people deciding whether to get tested or register their test result, it is the best way of understanding how many people have got Covid-19.
The latest ONS Infection Survey data, applied to Buckinghamshire, shows a steep decline in the number of infected people in Buckinghamshire. This hopefully marks the end of the steep growth in infections which started at the beginning of December due to Omicron. This is excellent news, and shows the impact of both vaccinations (particularly the ‘booster’ campaign), and the Plan B precautions introduced before Christmas.
While this change is very welcome, this is NOT the end of the pandemic, or even the Omicron wave. Infection levels in Buckinghamshire remain exceptionally high, with around a fifth of the population infected with Covid-19. The reason infections are going down is because so many people have caught Omicron or have been recently boosted that the virus can no longer spread as easily. But the protection given by a booster doses wanes after 10 weeks, and the immunity given by recently catching Covid-19 also reduces in the same period. This means that in two or three months, Omicron (or another variant) will able to start spreading very quickly again. The fact that the Government have immediately abandoned all precautions against Covid-19 will make this situation worse.
In Buckinghamshire, we can expect to see the number of infected people fall over the next few weeks. But, at some point, they will stop falling. This ‘stop point’ will probably leave many thousands of people infected with Omicron in Bucks at any one time. That will be a continuing burden on the NHS, and a proportion of those people will sadly die, keeping the weekly death total much higher than it could be. This period of lower infection rates will come to an end (unless the Government take action). In the spring or early summer, at that point the immunity in the population will start to reduce again and the number of people infected with Omicron will start to grow again. This is exactly what happened in 2021 (you can see this in the graph), and sets up for another autumn/winter crisis.
BuDS continues to advise all older and clinically vulnerable people NOT to be fooled by the reducing numbers. Even as they fall, there will still be a lot of infected people in the community that you can catch Covid-19 from. The danger for older, disabled, and CV people is not going away, especially if you have never caught Covid-19 before.
BuDS will be urging the Government, the NHS in Bucks, and Bucks Council to take advantage of the fall in infection levels by taking steps to ‘Covid-proof’ the community. This means creating conditions where Covid-19 will not be able to spread, even when people’s immunity has declined. Permanent, moderate precautions like air filtration, better natural ventilation, changing the way people work, continuing to use face masks in high risk situations, etc, will all protect people’s health and lives in the future. Look out for our ‘Living Safely With Covid-19’ article soon.