Has Omicron already peaked in London? Capital’s cases began to flatten a week before Christmas

OMICRON’S grip on London – which saw the most cases as the variant started to spread across the country – may have already peaked.

Analysis of infections in the week before Christmas show the rise started to flatten off from December 18.

Around 30,000 people in London tested positive on December 20, before that number started to fall.

This continued for the next two days, forcing the average infection rate to flatten, with cases now already falling in some boroughs.

A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

The most recent case data, from December 27, showed around 5,000 Londoners had tested positive, although this set is still incomplete.

Some experts have warned the London figures could be skewed by less tests being done over Christmas, saying that it could rise again after families and friends mixed for the festive period.

And while they might be levelling off, the infection rates are still the highest seen thoughout the pandemic.

But as Omicron first took hold in London, how cases rise and fall are a good indication for how the rest of the country will fare with the variant.

It could be that the fast rise of the mutant variant in the capital, could also crash quickly – meaning the UK could be moving away from restriction fears sooner than thought.

Hospitalisations and deaths are still low from Omicron compared to Alpha, which struck last winter, which is also a promising sign of things to come, if the data remains at this level.

Professor Peter Openshaw, an immunologist at Imperial College London and SAGE scientist, told MailOnline: “There are many reasons for the apparent decline, a genuine decline being amongst them.’

“I hope this is good news, but really urge caution.”

FRESH HOPE

He warned, however, data backlogs from Christmas and New Year partying could result in another wave of cases in London.

Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, added it is “difficult to say” if cases peaked in London, as testing patterns changed over Christmas

But he said: “London cases will certainly begin to fall eventually, as the virus runs out of people to infect.

“It’s reasonably clear that case numbers in London are at least rising more slowly, but we just can’t be sure when the peak is reached – not yet anyway.”

It follows an indication last week the growth rate of Omicron plummeted in London.

The promising news was shared by mathematician Alex Selby, who used the daily rates up to December 16 to create a graph.

London’s rate line starts high, rises, and then very obviously falls in a two week period.

He wrote: “Been looking at what we might be able to deduce from the published proportions of Omicron combined with daily case counts.

“If the case counts are accurate, then *growth* in new cases per day of Omicron in London has crashed – i.e. new cases are roughly constant.

“There are still a LOT of new cases per day but if there really is zero growth in new cases then that is highly encouraging.”

He suggested the change in rate – different to the amount of cases being detected, which is still very high – could have been caused by people changing behaviour.

In an effort to save their family Christmases, Londoners may have locked down to avoid catching the bug.

Or they became infected with Omicron and self-isolating, therefore stopping any more spread taking place.

This means people weren’t meeting others as much or heading out to restaurants and bars, lowering the chance of infections being passed on and demonstrating how an outbreak can be nipped in the bud.

Mr Selby concluded: “The summary is that if this is real, then Omicron is still a massive threat and hasn’t gone away, but at least it would be somewhat controllable with what we could call a voluntary lockdown.



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