Mr Hopson, NHS Providers chief executive, has warned coronavirus data is not yet able to tell scientists how Christmas mixing among younger and older people may impact hospital demand. Mr Hopson was speaking before Boris Johnson attended a Covid data briefing on Monday with Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England. While no new Government restrictions are planned before the end of the year, Mr Johnson has not ruled out bringing in measures after New Year’s Eve.
Mr Hopson told Times Radio: “Well, I think we’re all looking at the data really, really carefully and the bit that we just simply don’t know yet is that most of the COVID-19 admissions tend to be in people who are younger.
“Because we know that the way that the Covid infection rate works Covid infection works that it tends to start in younger people and then effectively, it spreads to older people.
“Clearly as we know, the older people are in much greater risk potentially of hospitalisation.
“Though of course, you know, if they’ve people have been double jabbed, triple jabbed, with the booster, then obviously that offers significant protection.
He continued: “So what we’re really waiting to see is exactly what is going to happen over the next you know, few days stroke week, particularly because we know there was a lot of intergenerational mixing at Christmas.
“So in other words over the last couple of days, we’ve had lots of younger people mixing with older adults, and we clearly need to see what impact that’s going to have.
“So where we are, is we’re still looking at the data and we need to let that data play out over the next few days and see see see what happens.”
Mr Hopson added: “But the crucial point is we need to be ready to bring in tighter protections in terms of restrictions on social contact, if that’s what the data shows, but it’s not, it’s probably not doing so at the moment, but the numbers are definitely starting to increase.”
The latest UK infection data currently in the public domain dates back to Christmas Eve, when more than 122,000 people tested positive in the previous 24 hours, while hospital data on the Government dashboard has not been updated since December 20.
Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said the number of staff absences due to Covid infections was likely to play a part in the Government’s thinking on whether to go further than Plan B.
“Clearly there are still large numbers of new cases being detected,” he told PA.
“I assume that hospital bed occupancy and staff absences due to isolation rules will be the critical factors on the public health side of any decision.”