The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty who advises the Prime Minster has warned that within a “matter of days to a very small number of weeks” there will be a “very high peak” of cases.
In the run up to Christmas Professor Whitty noted that the NHS has a mounting backlog which “could not have happened in a more difficult time.”
He told NHS England COVID-19 vaccination update for healthcare professionals, that the booster jab is the “number one priority.”
Speaking to NHS professionals, Professor Whitty said, “I think people have seen the headlines.
“They will have seen that the rate of increase at the moment across much of the country is this Omicron variant is going up with a doubling time that somewhere between two and three days.
“And I’m afraid in some places it’s at the lower end of those – so doubling every two days in some areas.
“What that means is barring something very unexpected, and certainly we haven’t seen that so far in South Africa which is ahead of us on this, this is going to carry on rising at an incredibly sharp rate.
“And so we can anticipate that within a matter of days to a very small number of weeks, there will be a very high peak.”
The Chief Medical Officer for England added, “That will hit two different things. The first thing is it will hit workforce across the whole of the NHS, social care and indeed the rest of the country, and we will have many of our colleagues who will be going off because either they are unwell, because they’re isolating, or because they’re caring for others.
“And so there will be a really significant hit and then very shortly after that, unless this is massively milder than previous variants – and I don’t think the evidence is there to suggest it is; maybe slightly but it has never been suggested is massively milder – then we’re going to have a significant wave very rapidly into the NHS after that.”
Professor Whitty continued, “All of us who worked in the NHS are aware this could not have happened in a more difficult time. But the fact is we have to do this now.
“This is when Covid is hitting us. We have no choices on this.
“And if we don’t get as far ahead of this peak as we can, we will be at the end of this month and into January feeling we wished we had. So we’ve really got to do this.
“This has got to be the number one priority. And I think that’s quite widely accepted by people who’ve looked at the numbers on this.”