What will the Northern winter 2021-22 be like?

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With travel, hopefully opening up soon, it’s time for a for a little tea-leaf reading about what the COVID situation is likely to be in the northern hemisphere as it passes into winter.
I probably care most about the UK, followed by Japan.

A friend sent me this which lays out 3 scenarios for how the UK might go. Good, but fingers crossed


For Japan reopening does not seem to be that high on the agenda, but case numbers are falling as the vaccination rate rise, but restrictions are easing and I’m not sure a new state of emergency will be tolerated, if it is needed this winter. Everyone is on pause for the LDP leadership election, and all 4 candidates seem to be doing a great job of avoiding talking about COVID at all.
 

Pushka

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With travel, hopefully opening up soon, it’s time for a for a little tea-leaf reading about what the COVID situation is likely to be in the northern hemisphere as it passes into winter.
I probably care most about the UK, followed by Japan.

A friend sent me this which lays out 3 scenarios for how the UK might go. Good, but fingers crossed


For Japan reopening does not seem to be that high on the agenda, but case numbers are falling as the vaccination rate rise, but restrictions are easing and I’m not sure a new state of emergency will be tolerated, if it is needed this winter. Everyone is on pause for the LDP leadership election, and all 4 candidates seem to be doing a great job of avoiding talking about COVID at all.

I know that many of our UK colleagues are very concerned about Winter time. While they don't need to wear masks except on transport, many have not ditched them. Son and DIL wear them and are continually testing for Covid at home as DIL sister currently has it.

Australia is lucky in that summer is on its way as we start to open up. Gives us a good 7 months of better weather.
 

VPS

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I know that many of our UK colleagues are very concerned about Winter time. While they don't need to wear masks except on transport, many have not ditched them. Son and DIL wear them and are continually testing for Covid at home as DIL sister currently has it.

Australia is lucky in that summer is on its way as we start to open up. Gives us a good 7 months of better weather.
chatting to a friend in the UK yesterday and he's in rural Cambridgeshire and he said no one is wearing a mask where they are. I'm not convinced they are going to get through their winter without a lot of problems
 

Seat0B

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a school friend of Seat Son is currently living in London and reports that he just received a set of 10? RATs free from the government to be used instead of going for full PCR testing so that they can self isolate if needed over the winter
 

Telemachus

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a school friend of Seat Son is currently living in London and reports that he just received a set of 10? RATs free from the government to be used instead of going for full PCR testing so that they can self isolate if needed over the winter

The widespread availability and use of RATs (or Lateral Flow Tests as I think they are generally called in UK) is worth highlighting as good practice for adoption here. I suspect you and many other AFF members know all this (and some will have personal experience of using the tests) but others may not. The NHS has embraced LF tests as a surveillance tool and urges the whole population to take and submit a test twice a week. LF tests are for asymptomatic people and serve a different purpose to PCR (diagnostic) tests, though the speed of the process makes them an option in situations where a PCR test is impracticable. Among other applications a LF negative result is required on the day of a planned visit to an aged care home or a hospital, for example.

LF test kits can be ordered and picked up from pharmacies and libraries; they are also distributed through educational institutions (as you posted) and some employers; and anyone can order 1 or 2 kits for delivery in the post. They are currently free though HMG is reported to be considering making a charge ‘within a few months’. Unlike Australia, the UK requires no medical supervision of the conduct of LF tests: the user performs their own test and submits the result online.

Coincidentally, earlier today I looked up how to order the test kit since I plan on having a couple of kits waiting for me when (if…) I arrive in the UK: Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests.

The UK has made very significant errors in its pandemic response but the successful procurement and roll-out of vaccines is not the only area where the UK has done rather well. Hard to understand why Australia wouldn’t be moving faster on LF tests now that we have the luxury of seeing how their use overseas has been adjusted and improved after initial doubts.
 
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The widespread availability and use of RATs (or Lateral Flow Tests as I think they are generally called in UK) is worth highlighting as good practice for adoption here. I suspect you and many other AFF members know all this (and some will have personal experience of using the tests) but others may not. The NHS has embraced LF tests as a surveillance tool and urges the whole population to take and submit a test twice a week. LF tests are for asymptomatic people and serve a different purpose to PCR (diagnostic) tests, though the speed of the process makes them an option in situations where a PCR test is impracticable. Among other applications a LF negative result is required on the day of a planned visit to an aged care home or a hospital, for example.

LF test kits can be ordered and picked up from pharmacies and libraries; they are also distributed through educational institutions (as you posted) and some employers; and anyone can order 1 or 2 kits for delivery in the post. They are currently free though HMG is reported to be considering making a charge ‘within a few months’. Unlike Australia, the UK requires no medical supervision of the conduct of LF tests: the user performs their own test and submits the result online.

Coincidentally, earlier today I looked up how to order the test kit since I plan on having a couple of kits waiting for me when (if…) I arrive in the UK: Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests.

The UK has made very significant errors in its pandemic response but the successful procurement and roll-out of vaccines is not the only area where the UK has done rather well. Hard to understand why Australia wouldn’t be moving faster on LF tests now that we have the luxury of seeing how their use overseas has been adjusted and improved after initial doubts.
Lateral flow tests have indeed been one of the great successes of the the pandemic response in the UK; so naturally free provisions of them on the NHS on the chopping block for next year. of course that can be reversed along with the recent decision to abandon the use of vaccine passports. However both lateral flow tests and vaccine passports were giving friends and relatives of mine considerable peace of mind.
 

Telemachus

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However both lateral flow tests and vaccine passports were giving friends and relatives of mine considerable peace of mind.
Good point. My own relatives and contacts report that LF tests have become both a routine 'baseline public health measure' that is widely accepted in the UK, and a source of reassurance as they start to rebuild their lives.

I'm still pondering your original (slightly unnerving) question about which way the northern hemisphere (specifically UK) may go in the winter.
 

Telemachus

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With travel, hopefully opening up soon, it’s time for a for a little tea-leaf reading about what the COVID situation is likely to be in the northern hemisphere as it passes into winter.
I probably care most about the UK, followed by Japan.

A friend sent me this which lays out 3 scenarios for how the UK might go. Good, but fingers crossed

You didn’t reveal your own view but I’ll bite. I have no relevant expertise but apparently that is no bar to sharing one’s analysis with the world. To my mind, looking at this as an Australian resident determined to travel to the UK in December, there are reasons for trepidation but also some reassuring indicators. On the downside:
  • Lingering concern at HMG’s decision from Freedom Day (19/7/21) to drop some of the simple non-intrusive measures that could have slowed the seasonally-enhanced juggernaut that may be on its way.
  • Perplexing unexplained withdrawal from a limited vaccine passport mandate for certain premises and events.
  • Indications that the UK is approaching ‘peak vaccination’ at a level that is high but will not be high enough.
  • Doubts about how the health system will cope with increased Covid hospitalisation while acknowledging that the UK has previously rolled out surge arrangements (e.g. Nightingale hospitals) and could do so again if needed.
  • Yesterday’s US announcement (early Nov admission of vaccinated non-citizens from UK/EU) is all very well but some of those travellers will be bringing back to the UK a gift they didn’t pack.
In contrast, reasons to be positive about the outlook:
  • High rates of vaccination really are working and will continue to work for the majority who have had the jab, with some degree of herd protection for the vulnerable.
  • Many will continue to strike a balance by taking prudent measures to protect themselves and others without a government mandate or specific recommendation.
  • Prof Chris Whitty and other senior medical advisers have the PM in a headlock on the need to move promptly (go early, go hard) should the need arise.
  • As per previous posts above, universal free screening with LF home test kits provides a powerful early warning mechanism as well as personal reassurance before proceeding with various individual activities.
  • Much (most?) of the population is reconciled to ‘living with Covid’ at a level of daily hospitalisation and fatalities that contrasts starkly with Australia. Whatever one may think about what numbers ought to be acceptable, the UK determination to overcome and move on is admirable.
It’s that last point that I’m particularly looking forward to experiencing for myself and discussing with family and friends. I feel my planned visit is going to be a kind of time travel into a future that won’t be available here in Australia until well into 2022.
 

OATEK

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My daughter (London) has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of LF tests because her neighbour works in a Covid Ward. But they are not getting much of a workout at present. 10yo Granddaughter had a virus this week, and school insisted on a Covid PCR test, along with half her class. Came back negative.

Daughter is concerned that lockdowns will return, but hopes to spend a week in Lapland (Sami country) in December. Still a lot of discussion over there about booster shots, particularly as Son-in-law had Pfizer in Feb 2021, and are unsure about how fast protection might fade..
 

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Telemachus

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There is a very pertinent article on p15 of the printed edition of today’s AFR written by the paper’s astute London correspondent Hans van Leeuwen:
In vaccinated Britain, all my friends are getting COVID-19

It is balanced, informative, hopeful and mostly reassuring. Paraphrasing some key points (there is a paywall):
  • ‘Normalisation’ of Covid continuing its progress in UK;
  • A striking incidence of fully vaccinated people catching Covid but experiencing nothing worse than an unpleasant bout of flu;
  • Stabilising numbers (cases, hospitalisation, fatalities);
  • Society moving on from obsessive focus on the pandemic;
  • Transferable lesson: vaccination not the whole answer and will not take us back to pre-2020 but for most people it will be possible to live without a high level of anxiety.
I wonder what is made of the UK situation and 'direction of travel' by Australians currently over there. Commenting on AFF might provide a momentary distraction for those holding out for flights to Australia (well, SYD) and stressed by the continuing absence of firm, positive news from this end about inbound travel.

No doubt there's a degree of confirmation bias in my personal reading of this article but that is fine so long as one is conscious of it. Highly recommended reading though you should not take that as a prompt to go out and buy the paper unless you have another (genuinely essential) reason to leave home:).
 
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OATEK

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There is a very pertinent article on p15 of the printed edition of today’s AFR written by the paper’s astute London correspondent Hans van Leeuwen:
In vaccinated Britain, all my friends are getting COVID-19

It is balanced, informative, hopeful and mostly reassuring. Paraphrasing some key points (there is a paywall):
  • ‘Normalisation’ of Covid continuing its progress in UK;
  • A striking incidence of fully vaccinated people catching Covid but experiencing nothing worse than an unpleasant bout of flu;
  • Stabilising numbers (cases, hospitalisation, fatalities);
  • Society moving on from obsessive focus on the pandemic;
  • Transferable lesson: vaccination not the whole answer and will not take us back to pre-2020 but for most people it will be possible to live without a high level of anxiety.
I wonder what is made of the UK situation and 'direction of travel' by Australians currently over there. Commenting on AFF might provide a momentary distraction for those holding out for flights to Australia (well, SYD) and stressed by the continuing absence of firm, positive news from this end about inbound travel.

No doubt there's a degree of confirmation bias in my personal reading of this article but that is fine so long as one is conscious of it. Highly recommended reading though you should not take that as a prompt to go out and buy the paper unless you have another (genuinely essential) reason to leave home:).
My daughter in London says that the biggest issue facing her peers is the risk of non-Covid diseases rising following the absence of screenings, GP in-person care etc. Already 2 in her circle are facing cancer issues that should have been caught sooner.
 
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There is a very pertinent article on p15 of the printed edition of today’s AFR written by the paper’s astute London correspondent Hans van Leeuwen:
In vaccinated Britain, all my friends are getting COVID-19

It is balanced, informative, hopeful and mostly reassuring. Paraphrasing some key points (there is a paywall):
  • ‘Normalisation’ of Covid continuing its progress in UK;
  • A striking incidence of fully vaccinated people catching Covid but experiencing nothing worse than an unpleasant bout of flu;
  • Stabilising numbers (cases, hospitalisation, fatalities);
  • Society moving on from obsessive focus on the pandemic;
  • Transferable lesson: vaccination not the whole answer and will not take us back to pre-2020 but for most people it will be possible to live without a high level of anxiety.
I wonder what is made of the UK situation and 'direction of travel' by Australians currently over there. Commenting on AFF might provide a momentary distraction for those holding out for flights to Australia (well, SYD) and stressed by the continuing absence of firm, positive news from this end about inbound travel.

No doubt there's a degree of confirmation bias in my personal reading of this article but that is fine so long as one is conscious of it. Highly recommended reading though you should not take that as a prompt to go out and buy the paper unless you have another (genuinely essential) reason to leave home:).
Yes, it’s working it’s way round my family and friendship group. Generally making them miserable for a few days but no worse than a bad cold. Much better than those who got it last year pre-vax and some took months to recover fully.

Given we’re all going to get it, I’d much rather get it sooner rather than later, it’s almost worth getting it now in lockdown, and definitely pre-travel.

Perhaps I should find out where the idiot parade is going to be tomorrow and goad then into shouting at me for a bit.
 

Telemachus

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I’ll be interested to hear your observations on return @Telemachus.
I’ll be happy to record and share my observations from this trip. I trust others will do the same and provide some assurance and confidence for prospective travellers who want to wait a bit longer for things to be more settled before resuming international travel.

As well as sharing personal insight into the still evolving new normal in the UK (and other destinations) I think there will be interest in AFF members’ experience of the practical logistic requirements which will be new to most of us e.g. acceptance of digital/paper vaccination certificates at check-in, in transit, on arrival and for access to venues in-country; transit experience as lounges reopen; and any novel aspect of recommended travel preparation that others may appreciate knowing in advance.

In the three months before I go I’m sure much will change and I for one will be looking regularly at AFF to update my assumptions and plans in the light of others’ experience – before adding my own contribution when the time comes.
 

roogirl

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That AFR article is right - the sentiment here in London is that it’s very much that it’s time to get on with it & we will all get covid eventually now. Your choice if you want it to be mild, in which case get vaxxed, or roll the dice - in which case stay unvaxxed . All the testing around travel is annoying and costly but we are on a path to removing it. I did a weekend in Paris last weekend and the travel experience felt pretty normal - the weirdest thing is having to get my U.K. passport stamped but that’s a brexit thing!

I’m confident australia will get there too. You cannot underestimate how little appetite vaccinated people have for continuing restrictions. It’s just a total non starter. Even qld & wa - it just won’t be acceptable to not be open.
 

oznflfan

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That AFR article is right - the sentiment here in London is that it’s very much that it’s time to get on with it & we will all get covid eventually now. Your choice if you want it to be mild, in which case get vaxxed, or roll the dice - in which case stay unvaxxed . All the testing around travel is annoying and costly but we are on a path to removing it. I did a weekend in Paris last weekend and the travel experience felt pretty normal - the weirdest thing is having to get my U.K. passport stamped but that’s a brexit thing!

I’m confident australia will get there too. You cannot underestimate how little appetite vaccinated people have for continuing restrictions. It’s just a total non starter. Even qld & wa - it just won’t be acceptable to not be open.
Exactly my thoughts. My problem is this will take some time, as long as early 2023 to materialise.

I want to escape somewhere nowish, but still held captive by my state even though vaccinated. Trip to both Melbourne Cup early November or Bathurst early December would be awesome.

London and NW France booked for May 2022 but that is still some time off yet.
 

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