Are we on the home straight of the COVID-19 pandemic?

s with previous peaks and as we head out of the peak of the third wave, there is currently a continuous debate about the ideal timing of easing the lockdown, when schools and businesses should re-open, and more importantly, whether such actions will catapult us into another wave.

Despite the recent promising news of normality gradually being restored, there may be emerging challenges that go beyond unfortunate, yet familiar issues that we have had with hospital admissions and deaths predominantly affecting people over the age of 50 to date. The concern for the future lies with those under the age of 50.

As the nationwide vaccination proceeds, anxiety levels will likely fall as vulnerable groups of people become largely protected. For those who have had just their 1st vaccination, 10-30% of these individuals will not develop immunity and once all of these individuals have had their second vaccination round, this will fall to 1-5%. This is because their immune systems just did not mount an immune response to the vaccinations which is a well-known phenomenon.

Coming back to the topic in question, it is the unvaccinated, younger age groups over the spring and summer months that may cause an increase in case numbers. Why is this the case? It is well-known that the young typically have no symptoms or display mild symptoms. Current evidence shows that those older but under the age of 50 have significant hospital admission rates but low mortality. There have, however, been reports of individuals around the age of 30 sadly passing away whilst admitted in hospital, so younger people are susceptible, but this is uncommon.

When the population is sufficiently protected and lockdown measures are reduced, the older age group may feel more at ease post-vaccination. Whilst younger individuals who adhered to the lockdown rules are less likely to before receiving a vaccine and the risk is young people will prematurely resume normal life before herd immunity is in place. So, we may see more COVID-19 cases in younger ages than we are seeing now. Serious illness would be uncommon but with many more numerical cases, COVID-19 could be more prevalent in the young. Hospitalisations may also happen, with some deaths, which will catch the headlines and potentially lead to another lockdown.

There is, like much of the past year, uncertainty with this forecast but the key takeaway is that the eagerness of the younger population to understandably resume normal life may well be their Achille’s heel as we appear to be on the home straight of the pandemic.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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