Covid-19 vs Christmas-20

December 19, 2020 • Reading time 2 minutes

Published 19 December 2020

Nationally the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 and hospital admissions for people with Covid-19 are around the levels seen just before the second lockdown in November. The current rate of spread, partly due to a new Covid-19 variant, is more than enough to be concerned, but there was the added concern of rules being relaxed for Christmas.

The traditional celebration is the definition of a super spreading event – grandparents mixing with grandchildren back from university, singing carols after a boozy Christmas lunch, followed by a long game of Monopoly. For some, it would have been the first time they would have been together in over nine months.

The un-relaxation of the rules for Christmas was sadly inevitable.

Our modelling for the Telegraph (read here), which is based on our Covid-19 tracking research (read more here), looked at a range of possible scenarios for January:

  • National lockdown from Monday (21st), and
  • Increased spread of Covid (Rt) during the Christmas week by 10%, 20%, and 30% followed by a lockdown from next Monday (28th)

The impact of these scenarios is shown below for cases (chart 1), hospitalisations (chart 2), and deaths (chart 3).

Chart 1 – weekly case numbers

Chart 2 – weekly hospitalisations

Chart 3 – weekly deaths

Only in the ‘national lockdown from Monday’ scenario with compliance in line with that seen in November do the numbers improve. If family gatherings lift the R rate by 30 per cent – as happened after Thanksgiving in parts of the US – our projections suggest deaths in England will peak at over 4,000 a week at the end of January.

We do not know what will happen over the next few days – even now that the rules have been changed. But the pressure from growing infections will be felt most acutely on the progressively more fatigued NHS.

While admissions will be lower than during the first wave in the spring, the sustained level of admissions over the last few months and it being much harder to discharge patients with Covid-19 means that hospital bed occupancy is growing alarmingly high in many hospitals.

The hope now rests very heavily on the vaccines and the vaccination programme. The promise is high.

If you are keen to explore more of our Covid-19 tracking research, have a look here –

Edge Health

Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.