Broadly speaking advice from both the British Acupuncture Council remains the same, we are permitted to continue practising within the usual Covid secure guidelines. Patients, and especially those at risk due to their immune status (1), should consider the following information before attending the clinic.
The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV 2 is more readily transmissible than previous variants (2) and, according to the UK Health Security Agency, is spreading rapidly in the community, largely displacing the co-circulating Delta variant (3).
A report from the UK Health Security Agency suggests that Omicron results in much less hospitalisations than Delta (4). While it seems that Omicron shows more potential for immune escape both from previous natural infection and vaccination (4,5), the UKHSA suggests vaccination still provides substantial additional protection from hospitalisation (4).
Currently the UK is experiencing a very significant surge in cases, and surveillance estimates from the Office for National Statistics for data up to 23rd December showed high prevalence of Covid-19 in England, with 1 in 25 people testing positive (6).
The increased transmissibility and increased community prevalence of Omicron means an increased risk of exposure in public places and in close contact environments such as the clinic. However this should be weighed against the often substantial need for treatment, the likelihood of less severe infection with Omicron, along with continued protection from severe illness provided by vaccination.
Please get in touch if you would like to talk further about this.
Guidance COVID-19: guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk. (2021, December 24). UK Government Department of Health and Social Care. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-people-whose-immune-system-means-they-are-at-higher-risk/covid-19-guidance-for-people-whose-immune-system-means-they-are-at-higher-risk
Susan, H. (2021, December 16). Omicron R number estimated to be between 3 and 5, says UK health adviser – video. https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2021/dec/16/omicron-rnumber-covid-variant-estimated-3-5-dr-susan-hopkins-video
SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England Technical briefing 33. (2021). UK Health Security Agency. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1043807/technical-briefing-33.pdf
SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England Technical briefing: Update on hospitalization and vaccine effectiveness for Omicron VOC-21NOV-01 (B.1.1.529). (2021). UK Health Security Agency. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1044481/Technical-Briefing-31-Dec-2021-Omicron_severity_update.pdf
Head, E., & L van Elsand, S. (2021). Omicron largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/232698/modelling-suggests-rapid-spread-omicron-england/
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: 31 December 2021. (2021). Office For National Statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/31december2021
* Please note: this is my take on the current situation with reference to the above mainstream sources only. I have no expert knowledge so please take that into consideration.