Covid experts give their predictions for Christmas as two new sub variants found in UK


FOR the first times in years Britain could experience a relatively Covid-free Christmas this winter, despite the emergence of two new variants.

Modelling by University College London (UCL) suggests infections will continue to fall until January, but may start to rise significantly in the New Year.

This means few, if any restrictions are likely to be imposed over the festive period, which in previous years have spoiled Christmas plans.

But Professor Karl Friston of UCL told The Sunday Telegraph the “morbidity and mortality of a large post-Christmas wave should be substantially less than previous years.”

Professor Friston said: “It looks as if the current peak has passed and the long-term forecast suggests a subsequent peak after Christmas.

“This appears to be largely driven by seasonal fluctuations in transmission risk and a slower underlying increase, due to the emergence of new variants.”

Speaking to the Sun, Prof Karl said the modelling took into account the two new Omicron sub variants, named BQ.1 and XBB, which were first discovered in the UK last week.

And therefore the “predictions of a January wave are unchanged”.

“At present, it appears that this wave will be larger in terms of prevalence, compared to previous waves, but less serious in terms of morbidity and death,” he explains.

Latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is showing a slow down in infections in the past week, following a worrying spike in September.

The number of people testing positive rose by just 40,000 to 2.05million  in the week to October 17 – a mere 2 per cent rise from the week before.

And more recent data showed the number of hospitalisations is also down by 16 per cent within the same time period.

It shows the latest Covid surge is dying, having caused less damage than any previous wave.

However, Kara Steel, ONS senior statistician for the Covid-19 infection survey, said the new figures show a “mixed picture”.

“It remains too early to say from the data whether we are seeing a turning point in the level of infections – which remain high across the countries,” she said.

Meanwhile, two new Covid strains have been detected in the UK – with more than 700 cases identified so far.

The sub-strains, BQ.1 and XBB, are descendants of Omicron – the dominant strain currently circulating.

BQ.1 is a highly transmissible off-shoot of the omicron subvariant BA.5.

It’s proven to be fast spreading and has so far been detected in 65 countries, including the US.

XBB – a combination of the Omicron substrains BA.2.75 and BA.2 – was first reported in India in August.

Since then, it has been dubbed a ‘nightmare’ variant, after it rapidly doubled the number of new infections in a matter of days in some of the 35 countries where it has been detected

It’s thought to have an exceptional variants ability to evade immunity acquired through past infections or jabs/

Earlier this month, the Sun reported that Professor Tim Spector of Kings College London, said cases could drift down to as low as 80,000 a day in the coming weeks – claiming that infections in this latest wave have peaked.

Speaking to the i, he said he has ‘no idea’ why they have done this – but said it’s good news for those looking to gather during the festive period.

“But it means we probably will have a few weeks’ respite as the rates drop until January, so at the moment it’s looking like we might have a relatively peaceful Christmas, which is one time in particular when you do want rates to be low,” Prof Spector added.

The most recent data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app states that there are 20 symptoms Brits should be on the lookout for.

This data refers to all Brits who have logged their symptoms on the app, regardless of how many jabs they have had.

To read daily news, click here.

About the author


Add Comment

By Jackson

Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act please contact with the subject DMCA Request.
Contact us: