The next coronavirus variant could be worse than Omicron, the national clinical director has said.
Following comments made by the First Minister earlier this week that Scotland “may be starting to turn a corner” with Omicron, Professor Jason Leitch warned that another variant could be “more severe” than the current outbreak.
It comes as 8203 new cases of coronavirus were reported in Scotland on Thursday, with 58 people currently in intensive care.
Speaking on Scotland Tonight, Prof Leitch said: “We’ve had four variants, and they’ve got progressively worse, and then one has got slightly better. But Omicron didn’t come from Delta and Delta didn’t come from Alpha. That’s not how it works. They all come from the beginning.
“So you could get a more mild one, and that would help us and you would end up having fewer people in hospital, but you could get a more severe one. So we have to be ready for all of those eventualities.
“This is not the last variant, there will be another one. So governments all over the world, including ours, have to be ready and businesses have to be ready.”
Prof Leitch added that while it may seem as though cases of Omicron have peaked, he “fully expects” people to continue to be hospitalised with the strain.
Referencing how long it took hospitalisations to fall following Christmas in 2020, he said: “Boxing Day in 2020 took us five weeks to get the hospitalisations to turnaround. So that’ll take us five weeks again.
“So that’s hard for our hospitals and our healthcare workers.”
When asked if there are “glimmers of hope” that life will get back to normal soon, Prof Leitch was cautious.
“It will be the next normal, it won’t be the same as it was pre-Covid,” he said.
“We’re not going to wake up on a Tuesday morning and think ‘that’s a relief, that’s all over we can just move on’.
“We’re gonna have to adapt to the next version of Covid.”