ODecember 29 The UK recorded 246,215 covid-19s, more than three times the previous peak a year ago. Given that the UK’s immunity level is the same as in the winter of 2020, when few people were vaccinated, this number of cases constitutes a new disaster. Thousands of people will die every day. But thanks to vaccination, that is not the case. The rate of death after a positive test for covid-19 was about one-twentieth of last winter.
That’s why the government is considering when to stop offering free immunochromatography, a policy that has cost more than £ 6 billion ($ 8.2 billion). It has recently wobbled in the face of public anger, but there is no doubt that supply will soon end. However, the timing is tricky. The NHS It is stretched thinly. Scientists and public health experts are worried that when the number of cases is large, many people collectively refer to the condition after infection with the virus as long covid, and the virus may be boosted after the free test is completed. doing. Some people have become accustomed to the license given by a single pink line of tests done before meeting friends and colleagues.
However, the properties of Omicron change the logic of the test. Much more contagious than previous variants, it has driven its predecessors to extinction around the world in just one month. There is no possibility of eliminating it. Even China will fail, with all the authoritarianism it can collect. Omicrons not only spread throughout the much stronger population, but also cause essentially milder illnesses than previous variants. This is due to the evolved tendency to infect the upper respiratory system rather than the lower respiratory system.
This all means that untested people are at less risk of dying or being hospitalized for unknowingly taking over the disease. In contrast, after a positive test, people are obliged to isolate themselves, so the risk of disruption of critical services is higher than ever.Chris Hopson, Association Boss NHS The hospital said on January 8 that the shortage caused by staff isolated after a positive test was causing problems as great as the influx of covid-positive patients. In the past month, more Britons have tested themselves, but the virus is widespread.
So, for some people, the balance of cost and benefit now insists on ending the distribution of free laterial flow tests. Sir John Bell, a professor of Regius Medicine at Oxford University, said: “We spend a lot of money on testing, which means we’re trapping a lot of people and the economy isn’t moving forward. That has serious drawbacks.”
But Sir John warns that the test infrastructure needs to be ready to re-gear with a rush notice, in case the new variant modifies the cost-benefit equation again. Little is known about the evolution of the virus, so I’m confident that while it’s as infectious as Omicron, nothing will cause more serious cases.
The United States has just begun to distribute its own free exams, as the UK is pondering the end of its free cross-flow exam program. Omicron’s logic is different there because few people are completely vaccinated. Other countries monitor UK fares to see if Sir John and the government’s calculations are correct, and whether it is actually beneficial overall to complete an extensive asymptomatic test. .. As the pandemic is mitigated and people are less concerned about whether they are infected with covid-19, the general public may be less likely to pay attention to the number of cases each day.
During the pandemic, the British government tends to hesitate to add safeguards and resolutely remove them, a pattern that is gaining criticism. Its rapid acceptance of the free lateral flow test went against the grain. When you finish the scheme, you will feel like giving up on a comfortable blanket. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. ■■
This article was published in the UK section of the printed version under the heading “Lookaway”.
The UK government will stop sending free tests to homes
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