Another Covid New Year

I’ve had a very quiet Christmas break. Apart from regular trips into the garden to feed the birds, and putting out and bringing in the bins yesterday, until this afternoon I hadn’t left the house since Christmas Eve. I ran out of bread and milk, though, so had to venture forth to do a bit of shopping. I didn’t pick a good time for it: it was pouring with rain.

I’m doing my bit to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant through sheer inertia. Although this strategy is perfectly fine by me, it does leave me short of new things to blog about. I therefore had a look at what I posted on December 30th last year.

On December 30th 2020 the Taoiseach announced that Ireland would go into Level 5 restrictions following a surge in Covid-19 cases. This was the state of play then together with today’s figure:

Notice that the y-axis on the right is ten times the scale of that on the left. The increase at the end of 2020 was to continue into the new year to produce a huge spike in cases (and, sadly a great number of deaths) that peaked around January 10th, after the Level 5 restrictions were imposed. A similar trajectory seems likely in early 2022.

At the time I was very angry about the Irish Government’s decision to relax restrictions before Christmas, which I still think was culpable. This time round there was a similar increase in cases following a relaxation in November to reopen nightclubs and other hospitality venues (which I also think was wrong). It wouldn’t be fair to blame the recent surge in cases on that, however. The timescale of increase of the omicron variant is so short that the wave would probably only have been delayed by a week or two.

The latest 7-day average of new cases is 12582.0 per day and it is likely that we’re at least a week away from the peak. These figures are almost certainly serious underestimates, as testing capacity has been reached. What I wrote on December 30th 2020 also applies today:

Unfortunately the Christmas wave hasn’t really hit these figures yet so I think thinks are going to get a lot worse before they get better. 

Fortunately this year we have the vaccines and these have had a clear effect on the death rate. Let’s hope this line of defence holds but, even if it does, the Health Service will be under severe strain in January. Although the vaccines reduce the rate of serious illness and death per case to about 10% of that experienced last year, we have more than ten times as many infections.

I didn’t imagine things would look even grimmer at the end of 2021 than they did at the end of 2020, but there we go. We’ll just have to wait and see how it pans out. One thing I can be sure about is that I won’t be going out on New Year’s Eve!

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