A Covid Christmas: top scientists on how they will navigate party season

The scientists working on Covid are making calculations about which of their own festivities to go ahead with and which to scale back as Omicron cases are on the increase and a new wave threatens to overshadow Christmas.

The cell biologist at University College London is Prof.

The decision about whether or not to risk my life was taken out of my hands after the airline canceled the flight and the town was in a state of emergency. I am relieved to be at home, given the current uncertainties about the Omicron wave.

The usual personal invitations haven't materialised this year because the university canceled all work parties. My book club is going to a pub for drinks this weekend. I was wavering about whether or not to attend until I saw the latest results of the Pfizer booster fight against Omicron, which makes me think I'm going to chance it.

The Christmas play is in the West End. I haven't been to the theatre since Covid times and I'm relieved that plan B hasn't ruined it.

We expect a few flyby visits from relatives this year, but we plan to keep our holidays mostly in the immediate family. We have been stressed out for a long time and the thought of just being together for Christmas is appealing. I am relaxing in my jim-jams while I work through the pile of novels that have been sitting on my bedside table.

The professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London is Tim Spector.

We canceled our university and Christmas parties, which was disappointing, but I have still been socializing. I had a celebration day out at Windsor Castle last week to get my award. There was a lot of social distance and mask-wearing when I met Charles. I went to the opera with four of us. I am going to meet my brother and his family that morning and do some tests to make sure nobody has cold-like symptoms. We are trying to meet people in small groups.

I plan to go to the Spanish Pyrenees over the holidays to walk and ski. Spain has very low levels compared to the UK. At the moment, there is always that worry about travelling. You are wondering if Covid will change the regulations before you arrive or if you will catch them before they do. I am looking forward to having a few days off and not talking about Covid. It's time to stop using the phone and not look at the news for a couple of days.


The Christmas party was canceled due to Omicron concerns.

No 10 says its Christmas party is canceled due to Omicron concerns.

The University of Edinburgh has a immunologist named Eleanor Riley.

I am staying in Edinburgh for the holidays and not going to any large or loud parties. I expect a few friends at home or in the pub to be the limit. We are not having any extended family gatherings, we are just having immediate family and a friend. I am looking forward to hunkering down in front of the fire, catching up on some great books and films I missed during the year and, with a bit of luck, some crisp walks in the winter sunshine.

Neil Ferguson is an epidemiologist at Imperial College London.

I have a small Christmas. I was hoping to see my parents over the holiday season for the first time since the Pandemic started. At the moment, it's weighing that up. Christmas parties have been stopped at Imperial College. People make their own decisions about what is appropriate. All my parties have been canceled.

People are not in work and children are not in school during the Christmas period, which leads to lower contact rates. It won't make a difference if people have relatives around for Christmas lunch. A lot of people have wild parties. I think people can be reasonable.