Scotland's National Clinical Director warns next Covid variant could be 'worse than Omicron'

His comments come as Scotland recorded 8,203 new cases and 26 deaths from Covid-19 and Sturgeon said the country could be to 'turning a corner” in fighting the virus.


National clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch has said that new Covid variants have the potential to be “more severe” than the current Omicron outbreak.

His comments come as Scotland recorded 8,203 new cases and 26 deaths from Covid-19 and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the country could be starting to “turn a corner” in fighting the virus.

Speaking on STV’s Scotland Tonight, the Professor 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.”

Professor Leitch also said he did not understand the push for more data on people who have been hospitalised because of the effects of the virus.

The figures were released on Friday by Public Health Scotland (PHS), after calls from opposition politicians, in an effort to better understand the severity of the new Omicron variant.

The analysis showed that as much as 60% of the positive cases reported in hospital in Greater Glasgow and Clyde on January 1 and 2 and Grampian between December 30 and January 4 were in hospital because of the virus.

But the national clinical director said the drive amounted to a “slight misunderstanding of how healthcare works”.

“I don’t know what the fascination with this data is – you have all the data we have,” he told Tory MSP, Murdo Fraser.

“It speaks to, if you forgive me, a slight misunderstanding of how healthcare works.

“Healthcare is not a single disease. The people in hospital with Covid, who are in trouble, don’t just have Covid.

“They have diabetes, they have leukaemia, they’re 87, there are all kinds of things going on.”

He added: “I am not as convinced that this data is as important as some think, because healthcare is not linear, there are very few people in who are having their leg fixed because they fell over on the ice who get a positive Covid test – there will be some of course – but the vast majority getting care in our hospitals with a Covid test are getting it because they have Covid and they’ve got other things going on as well.”