Is soaring Omicron the reason UK's death rate is FLAT? Experts say ultra-infectious variant 'should be welcomed' because it's driven out deadlier rival strains - as data suggests mortality rate is now 21 TIMES lower than during devastating second wave
EXCLUSIVE: The UK's case fatality rate was dropping even before the Omicron variant took off in the country
Less than 0.15% of official cases caused a death on December 28 compared to more than 3% last December
Death numbers have remained low throughout the last month despite the emergence of the strain
Omicron 'should be welcomed' because the ultra-infectious variant could consign the days of Britain recording thousands of Covid deaths each day to history, according to experts who say mortality rates had already dipped 20-fold before the strain had really took off.
Despite cases skyrocketing to pandemic highs of over 200,000 because of the super-mutant strain — which has driven out deadlier rival variants — fatalities have stayed flat at around 110 since early December.
MailOnline analysis shows the UK's case fatality rate — the proportion of confirmed infections that end in death — was dropping even before the variant took off. And intensive care admissions have yet to spiral, despite soaring hospital admissions.
Just 0.15 per cent of cases led to a death towards the end of December, compared to highs of over three per cent during the darkest days of last year's second wave when the Alpha variant was in full motion and the NHS had yet to embark on its vaccination drive.
Government advisers warned soaring case numbers this winter would lead to an inevitable surge in hospital admissions and deaths of up to 6,000 per day, even with immunity provided by boosters.
But a host of studies have since claimed the variant, which was only detected in Britain in November but made up 90 per cent of all cases before Christmas, is intrinsically less severe than its predecessors because it replicates in the upper airways rather than the lungs — where it would do more damage.
Professor David Livermore, a medical microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline the strain's emergence could be the best thing to have happened for the pandemic, echoing comments made by health experts in Denmark earlier this week.
He said: 'With the spread of Omicron over the past three weeks, recorded cases have gone from around 50,000 per day to around 200,000. This has not fed through into an increased death rate — and a rise would have been expected by now, if it was going to happen.
'The divergence between case and death rates agrees perfectly with Omicron being highly transmissible but less lethal than earlier variants — exactly as asserted by doctors in South Africa who discovered it.
'It tallies also with studies from Hong Kong and Cambridge showing that Omicron is less able to infect lung cells and more likely to stay in the upper airways, were it does less serious harm.
'In all these respects, Omicron is far preferable to the more dangerous variants that proceeded it and its take over should be welcomed.'
MailOnline analysis shows just 0.15 per cent of cases led to a death towards the end of December, compared to highs of over three per cent during the darkest days of last year's second wave when the Alpha variant was in full motion and the NHS had yet to embark on its vaccination drive. The rate is calculated by comparing average death numbers to average case numbers from two weeks earlier, which is roughly the amount of time it takes for the disease to take hold, experts say
Official data shows the number of people dying has barely changed across the UK over the last month, with fatalities dropping in the week up to December 31. Graph shows: Covid deaths by death date in the UK. More up to date death data by date reported is biased by reporting issues over the bank holiday weekends
The number of daily positive Covid tests recorded in England has exceeded 100,000 for nearly two weeks. However, the number of patients in hospital with the virus is a fraction of the level seen last winter, while deaths remain flat
(Ed: and we all know that the tests for Covid are an absolute joke)