The Omicron variation may significantly increase the risk of infection at Christmas parties

On Friday, December 3, 2021, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, prepares to greet Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei, at 10 Downing Street in London, United Kingdom. After a particularly trying period for Boris Johnson’s government, the ruling Conservatives won the first election, retaining a parliamentary seat in outer London but with a significantly reduced majority. According to a series of unusual super spreader incidents at festive celebrations across Europe, the omicron coronavirus variation greatly enhances the danger of becoming infected at social events.

The United Kingdom is pushing ahead with Omicron Christmas.

According to the Washington Post, the United Kingdom’s government laid up a “pathway back to normalcy” based on immunizations, therapies, and testing at the start of this year. After relatively high levels of immunization, a variety of Covid-19 therapies, and readily available fast antigen tests, Omicron is the first “variant of concern” to emerge. We’re about to see how much normalcy these scientific achievements have brought us.

Will we shut down, soldier on, or deal with a yo-yo of limits and liberations with each new super-variant?

Boris Johnson is clear: Party on. Christmas should go ahead “as normally as possible,” he has said repeatedly. “We don’t want people to feel they need to start cancelling things.”

Several of Johnson’s ministers and scientific advisers, on the other hand, disagree. Jenny Harries, the chief of the Health Security Agency, advised people to minimize their holiday socializing. A member of the government’s advisory council on respiratory virus dangers, Peter Openshaw, told a BBC audience that he would not feel secure attending an indoor party where people were not wearing masks. (Johnson’s own ministers were immersed in an odd public argument about snogging.)

Johnson is unlikely to do anything other than blessing Christmas festivities. After all, amid last year’s ultra-strict lockdown, a few things appear to have happened right under his nose. After weeks of unfavourable headlines casting doubt on the prime minister’s competency and honesty, he will undoubtedly be hoping that the festivities will serve to lift spirits.

Johnson is also considering the economy, which might use some holiday happiness.

Even before Omicron arrived, the trade organization UK Hospitality claimed that bookings were 30% below forecasts. However, it appears that cancellations are reducing, so Johnson’s encouragement may be helping.

Anecdotally, there don’t appear to be many cancellations in London, where restaurants and pubs are completely booked. What matters is what happens once the holidays are over.


Some have speculated that the conditions in Britain aren’t very favourable for Omicron. The number of omicron cases in the United Kingdom fell to a little under 250 on Sunday, which does not appear to be a large amount. However, exponential spread accelerates quickly. According to Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Omicron (or its ancestor) first appeared on October 1, and it took eight weeks of exponential development to gain our attention. That means that we won’t see the full consequences until the end of January or early February.

According to Norwegian officials, at least 13 people were infected with the omicron strain during a company Christmas party in Oslo on November 26 (one of whom had travelled from South Africa), and the number of cases could climb to 100.


According to James Johnson, a political strategist and former Downing Street pollster, the actions the UK has done thus far — including increased masks and new travel requirements — are quite low-cost for most people. However, like in the Netherlands, Belgium, and elsewhere, escalating limits each time a concern emerges may cause polarization in the United Kingdom (though Brits are likely to accept limitations if Omicron proves to be a severe threat to lives). There is also a group of Conservative MPs who are staunchly anti-lockdown and will oppose any new restrictions.


Omicron outbreak at Norway Christmas party is biggest outside S. Africa, authorities say

Following a workplace Christmas party described as a “super spreader event,” at least 13 persons in Oslo have been infected with the omicron type of coronavirus.

Authorities stated on Friday that the number of cases could grow to exceed 60.

Following the epidemic, the Norwegian authorities reintroduced several statewide regulations to stop Covid-19 from spreading.

Meanwhile, as in Newscientist magazine, Britain is still engaged in a low-level conflict with Delta. Infection rates in the United Kingdom have been rising even before the discovery of Omicron: cases per 100,000 persons in the United Kingdom are higher than in most European Union nations. The number of hospitalizations each week in the United Kingdom is slightly greater than in France and Italy but lower than in Germany. This hasn’t elicited much public alarm, maybe because infections have been concentrated in young individuals, particularly children. (Around 4.2 per cent of children had coronavirus infections in the week ending November 27, compared to around 1.6 per cent of adults.)

The immunization rate in the country has increased, with approximately 81 per cent of people receiving two doses of vaccine and 35 per cent receiving a third dosage or booster shot. Even yet, the UK’s healthcare system is unable to absorb additional strains.

According to PCR tests, 14 of 18 persons at a 60th birthday party in the United Kingdom were infected with Omicron, according to Tim Spector of King’s College London. All of the guests had been immunized and had tested negative on lateral flow testing within the previous 24 hours.

Tom Wenseleers of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium said, “It definitely reveals a very high secondary attack rate.”

Delta is more contagious than the Wuhan virus, but its spread is slowed by the fact that most people have developed immunity to it, either from prior infection or immunization. According to Wenseleers, Omicron appears to be both more infectious and stronger at escaping past immunity than Delta.

With other variants, we’ve seen super spreader events. In Skagit County, Washington, in May 2020, at least half of the 61 people who attended a choir practice became infected.

However, the fact that so many occurrences of this nature occurred so soon after Omicron arrived in Europe shows that the risk is greater. “This appears to be in a different league,” Nyborg says.

She believes that a smaller dose of Omicron can infect others, increasing the risk of airborne dissemination. “Only a few virus particles persisting in the air offer a greater harm now than for earlier variations,” Nyborg explains.

As the omicron spreads, people should avoid these types of events, according to Spector. However, the risk of contracting Omicron is also dependent on the likelihood of encountering someone infected with the virus at a party, which is currently low in most countries.

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