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What Does Omicron Mean for the UK in 2022?

Covid vaccine
Published on Dec 29, 2021

When the UK economy reopened for locals, nationals and international visitors and residents earlier this year, we did not expect to face the backlash of a new COVID-19 variant. The Omicron variant has a high spread rate and is expected to impact the country as well as the world exponentially. There are already many countries around the world that have imposed restrictions, and the threat of another lockdown is looming in the background.  

What does this mean for the citizens of the UK? What does it mean for the economy? Is it all bad news? Read on to find out. 

The Omicron Spread – How Bad Are Things? 

No matter how gloomy things may seem, it’s important to know that the situation is not as dire as it was this time, last year. While the spread of the variant is on the largest scale it has ever been, the impact is significantly lower. There are fewer deaths recorded now than there were in 2020, even if the caseload is much higher.  

percentage of hospitalization

The predictions by the NHS state that the total number of cases recorded daily will rise to 1 million if action isn’t taken. But, due to the extensive vaccination programs and the reduction in the severity of this variant, the percentage of hospitalisations has dropped from 22% (The Guardian) in 2020 with the Alpha wave to a 6% during the Omicron wave. Those who have been hospitalised due to the Omicron UK variant have been reported to spend a lot less time recovering than the numbers from last year. This paints a hopeful picture, but that hasn’t stopped the NHS from acting overly cautious and taking the worst-case scenario into consideration. 

So far, the number of older people getting affected by the Omicron variant in the UK in 2022 has been significantly lower than the numbers from last year, but there is nothing that can be said about the future, especially because there are minimal restrictions despite the rising number of cases in the UK due to the holiday season. The final count and the worst of it are expected to occur after January, once the Christmas and New Year seasons pass. According to the NHS, the worst-case scenario would be as dire as it was in 2020, but they are hopeful that the vaccination drives and booster shots will reduce the impact.  

workers got  virus

Despite the estimated severity of the Omicron variant being lower than the previous variants, the infection transmission rate is still extremely high, which means that the number of hospitalisations is going to continue to rise. It would mean that the healthcare professionals would be more at risk than ever to catch the infection, leading them off-duty. In mid-December alone, 19,000 staff members who work at the NHS were suffering from the Coronavirus, and now they have to spend a minimum of 2 weeks in isolation while they recover. The lack of professional help under these circumstances can increase the workload and strain on those who will still be on active duty, making the situation a lot worse than it is already.  

Another negative impact of the Omicron variant is its effect on the service industries. There is already a shortage of workers in the UK, and market research services indicate that this shortage will only continue to grow while the cases rise. It has already hit the transport industry, the supply chain industry, the retail industry, hospitality, and more. The inflation rate is now the highest since the pandemic’s peak in 2020 – the grocery prices are up by 3.2% (CGTN), the cost of savoury snacks went up by 7.6%, and even the price of an average Christmas dinner rose by over 3%.  

covid detection map

The issues with the supply chain industry still continue to worsen and will continue to do so well into 2022. The lack of functional transportation systems, improper handling of logistics, and the lack of people working in the field has put a big strain on the global economy, and the UK is not immune to it. We still don’t have a stable infrastructure in place since Brexit, which is another reason why there is such a severe shortage of transportation resources. 

What About the Testing Rate? 

The good thing about this year is that we are way better prepared to handle the situation with the variant than we were last year in the country. Since we already have the infrastructures built, we have developed faster testing processes and kits to help limit the spreading of the virus. Currently, the UK has the capacity to perform around 800,000 tests a day, and on average less than half the people who are actually infected get their tests done. But the rates at which the virus is spreading is honestly quite staggering because the numbers are nearly doubling every day. 

What does this mean for the UK? 

We can only hope that the spreading curve of the Omicron in the UK flattens soon after the Christmas season ends. The chances of this occurring are quite high, and there is real hope of the spread stabilising. It is bound to happen because of the sheer number of people getting infected in the country. The high infection rate will help build a tolerance to the virus, and the rising number of cases will slow down. 

What about vaccines? 

The vaccination drives are taking place in full swing, and the NHS has started to promote the booster shot as well. Since the two doses aren’t effective at stopping the infection, people will be required to take another booster shot to reduce the effects of the Omicron variant or protect themselves against it.  

coronavirus pandemic disinfector protective disinfectants

What Lies in the Future? 

Despite all the measures that the UK healthcare staff and the UK government are already taking, the next few weeks will still be crucial to the country’s financial, economic, and physical health. The buzzwords that describe the current situation and the future remain the same since the pandemic hit originally, and we still live in a time with unprecedented uncertainties, so there can’t be any guaranteed accuracy to the predictions that many of us make for the future. Market research services can only go so far by helping gather existing data and give out predictions of the state of the UK in 2022, but nothing can be absolutely certain about what will occur next year.  

There can be new variants that come out in the next few months, and there is nothing we can do to predict the level of severity. We can only hope that the vaccines help reduce the impact or work against the new variant, which doesn’t seem all that likely because of the existing data in hand. The vaccine isn’t’ effective at fighting the Omicron variant, and the newer variants that could come out could possibly mutate to render the booster shots ineffective as well.  

Read Also: The Omicron Variant Shows That COVID-19 Might Be Here to Stay—for Long 

covid effect in UK infographic

What Can We Do About It? 

The country will not be able to handle another economic and financial shutdown, especially with the rising inflation rates and the increase in the cost of living. It is up to the UK government to handle the impact of the pandemic with strict caution, and it is up to us to take matters into our own hands as well. All we can do is take all the safety precautions, maintain social distancing whenever we can, avoid going to crowded places, and wear masks when we are out in public. Prevention is always better than cure, and we should do whatever we can in our power to stop the spread.