On Wednesday, Mark Drakeford declared that the Omicron variant is just as deadly as any previous Covid strain if the person infected had not contracted the virus before. In response to this statement, Jamie Jenkins, the former Head of Health Analysis at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said that the Welsh First Minister was attempting to justify further Covid restrictions by deploying an “untrue statement with the intent to deceive” the public, and that the Welsh Government itself does not possess the evidence that upholds Drakeford’s conclusion. The Telegraph has the story.
Mark Drakeford has been accused of lying to the public by a former health statistics boss after he said Omicron was “probably” just as severe as delta, despite three studies concluding the opposite.
Jamie Jenkins, the former head of health analysis at the ONS, said that the Welsh First Minister had made an “untrue statement with the intent to deceive” as he scrambled to justify his Covid restrictions in the face of evidence that the latest Covid variant is milder.
On Wednesday, Drakeford said he did not think it is “as simple as saying Omicron is less serious than Delta”.
“If you have been infected previously, it may be that it is a less severe attack,” he told a press conference.
“If you have never had Covid and you get Omicron, the evidence is it is probably just as severe as any other form would be.”
His comments came despite new studies from the University of Edinburgh, the U.K. Health Security Agency and a group of South African scientists, which all suggested that Omicron produced less severe symptoms than delta, and was between 50% and 80% less likely to hospitalise patients.
Jenkins told the Telegraph that Drakeford was “deceiving the Welsh public” to justify Wales’s latest Covid restrictions, which include £60 fines for employees who travel to the office when they could work from home, a limit of six people in groups at pubs or restaurants and the return of two-metre social distancing.
He said that the Welsh Government appeared not to have firm evidence to support Drakeford’s assertion that Omicron was likely to be as severe as delta.
“I think the word ‘probably’ is a bit strange from the First Minister, because if you’re going to make statements to bring restrictions on businesses, you want more than ‘probably’,” he said.
“For him to say that the evidence is that it is ‘probably’ just as severe is just bizarre, because to say that, you have got to have some evidence, haven’t you?”
Worth reading in full.