Philip Thomas

Philip Thomas is visiting academic professor at Bristol University.

Why the Omicron wave won’t overwhelm the NHS

Barely six weeks after it was first discovered in Britain, the Omicron variant has changed everything. Cases have soared far beyond records made in the first wave. Hospital admissions are surging and pupils are once again wearing masks in school. Modellers have produced terrifying figures — up to 25,000 hospitalisations a day, more than five

Unless Omicron changes everything, Covid is on the way out

There are good reasons to be concerned about the Omicron variant. For starters, this strain has 50 mutations, twice as many as Delta. Early reports from South Africa, where the virus has been circulating for a while, suggest it’s outcompeting Delta and spreading rapidly. There is a concern, too, that it could blunt the vaccines,

How bad will the third wave be?

‘We see no reason to go beyond 19 July,’ the newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid confidently declared on Monday. His comments follow those of the Prime Minister who has described 19 July as the ‘terminus date’ for lockdown restrictions. But has Javid grasped the realities of the situation? The Indian (Delta) variant rise poses

How did Sage get it so wrong?

Professor Neil Ferguson struck an unusually optimistic tone this week. With just one Covid death reported on Monday, and infection levels at an eight-month low in the UK, the architect of the original lockdown said: ‘The data is very encouraging and very much in line with what we expected.’ The first half of that statement

Need we fear a third wave after lockdown ends?

When Boris Johnson revealed his roadmap out of lockdown at the end of February he promised a ‘one way road to freedom.’ Since then, it has seemed that instead of freedom we may end up with continued social distancing, perhaps Covid passports and mandatory mask-wearing. The justification offered is that the virus might come back.

When will vaccines let us reopen society?

With every passing day, more Covid immunity is being gained as hundreds of thousands receive the vaccine. Of course, vaccines take time to mature in the body and offer protection, but with roughly a quarter of the population having now received their first inoculation, our approach to dealing with the virus will inevitably need to

Why we should be wary of React’s R-number estimate

It seems that Boris Johnson will not begin to think about lifting lockdown restrictions until we have clear evidence that the latest wave of the virus has almost been defeated. So it was not exactly good news yesterday from Imperial College’s React Covid survey, which suggested that even though we are in lockdown, the R

Why Imperial College’s REACT study is so problematic

There was very gloomy news this week. ‘Coronavirus infections are not falling in England, latest REACT findings show,’ said a press release from Imperial College. It was widely covered in the press in this vein: Covid levels ‘may even have risen’ since the latest lockdown, BBC news reported. This reignited fears that further tighter lockdown

Covid’s endgame: How should lockdown be lifted?

There is a long-standing belief that herd immunity can only be achieved once between 60 to 80 per cent of the population is immune. This notion, however, does not take into account the fact that immunity can be achieved at a lower figure if social distancing measures are factored in. The herd immunity threshold, in fact,

Is the cost of another lockdown too high?

At times, the argument about lockdown has been described as a choice between saving lives or saving money. But this is a false equivalence. A weak economy leads to weakened citizens: it means less tax revenue, less money for the NHS, and poorer families — wealth and health are all too-closely linked. Just look at

The path between herd immunity and lockdown

In four decades working as an engineer and scientist, I have rarely known a more polarised time within the scientific field. The marketplace of ideas is depressingly split down the middle: you are either for herd immunity in the shortest possible time or for a full lockdown. There is, however, a third way: a method