England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has told MPs during a select committee hearing that “Omicron is not more dangerous than Delta.”
He told MPs during a select committee hearing. “I’m going to make an assumption that I think is safe now that, naturally, Omicron is not more dangerous than Delta.
“It may be slightly milder, it may be the same. We don’t know.”
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) chief medical adviser confirmed there are 15 people in hospital with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and there has been at least one death.
Dr Susan Hopkins told the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, “The released numbers that we released yesterday are 15. However we are constantly working on data linkage to improve that, and we will release new numbers this afternoon.”
Professor Whitty added, “But the real number will be much bigger than that. That is simply the number who are proven, just to be clear.”
Professor Whitty said that even if Omicron does turn out to be less harmful than Delta, the number of cases caused by the variant risks overwhelming the NHS.
He expects the peak of this winter wave to be a lot sharper than previous surges of infections.
He told MPs, “I think what we will see with this – and I think we are seeing it in South Africa – is that the upswing will be incredibly fast, even if people are taking more cautious actions, as they are.
“That will help slow it down, but it’s still going to be very fast.
“It’ll probably therefore peak really quite fast. My anticipation is it may then come down faster than previous peaks but I wouldn’t want to say that for sure.
“I’m just saying that that is a possibility.”