COVID-19: The new summer wave

Tourist crisis in the summers of 2020-22

Back in April 2022, I was talking to Mark McLaughlin @mark_mclaughlin about the future developments for the #COVID-19 epidemic in the UK. I made a prediction:

Coronavirus hospital admissions have dropped sharply but waning immunity means that Scotland faces a resurgence this summer, an epidemiologist has warned.

Covid in Scotland: Hospital admissions fall ‘but cases could surge again in summer’ | Scotland | The Times

I really hate to be a bearer of bad news but I am afraid my prophecy has turned true. The UK in general, and Scotland in particular have followed many other countries into a new coronavirus wave.

What I perhaps did not fully appreciate at that time was the rise of new variants, but I think they simply added to the general picture. I suspect the summer wave would have come anyway, fueled by immunity waning. And, remember that we have practically no restrictions.

What does it tell us for the future? The virus itself is now basically “endemic” in the sense that it does not disappear – or even go significantly down – between peaks. We actually entered this “endemic” state in May-June 2021, as the graph above (from the ZOE reporting) shows.

While the vaccines (and immunity from past infections) help in reducing hospitalisation and deaths, the virus is simply refusing to go away.

COVID-19 reported death rates per million, for 5 waves, centred at the peak. Note logarithmic vertical scale.

However, not only has the #COVID-19 been “normalised”, but I think the risk of getting (repeatedly) ill with possible complications has now become “priced in” by the general population.

In many “usual” everyday activities we take risks. Some people, who for example do extreme sports, take very serious risks but even crossing the road, or jogging in the park, might be (and often is) dangerous.

But we accept these risks – consciously, or subconsciously, or because others do it.

Of course, with infectious diseases, there is a problem that my actions – of not masking, not getting vaccinated, or not staying at home despite clear #COVID-19 symptoms – often have a severe impact on others. But, this is a topic for another post…