UK COVID-19 cases rising again, as monkeypox spreads and Polio re-emerges.
A third wave of infection from strains of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2—Britain’s fifth COVID wave—is pushing infection, hospitalisation and death rates up again.
Last week, according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures, 334 people were killed, nearly 6,000 people were admitted to hospital and an estimated 1.7 million people were suffering from some level of infection. This is around 1 in 35 of the population, although there are regional variations with Scotland reporting 1 in 20 infected and Northern Ireland 1 in 30. Rates of infection were on average up by 23 percent on the previous week.
Nearly two and half years after the World Health Organisation issued a public health emergency warning about a novel coronavirus, the WHO estimates 15 million people have been killed by COVID-19. Most of these deaths were avoidable and can be directly attributed to the refusal of governments worldwide to pursue the necessary policy of COVID elimination. Nearly 200,000 deaths have occurred in the UK. Despite relatively high levels of vaccination, over 53 million have received at least one dose and over 50 million have had at least three jabs, COVID-19 remains a potentially deadly and debilitating disease.
The current wave is largely due to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, now reported to make up more than half of new cases. Transmission of the new variants is likely to have been accelerated by the British monarch’s platinum jubilee. Millions of people attended mass events between June 2 and 5 and COVID prevalence increased by 43 percent in the following week.
Professor Tim Spector of the ZOE Covid symptom study app told the Independent, “We’re heading towards a quarter of a million cases a day. The question is whether it stops and comes back again, everyone is predicting an autumn wave but I don’t think anyone predicted this summer wave—that’s the difference.
“None of the modelling allowed for this, it didn’t take into account the effect of BA.5 variant which is dominant now.”
Mathematics lecturer Kit Yates told the Independent SAGE scientific advisory group June 17, “It is pretty much official from the latest ONS data that the UK has entered the next wave of COVID. It is most concerning to see that there has been an increase in COVID infections in older age groups and in the 50-59 age group who have not been offered another booster yet.”
Even for the over-75s offered a fourth shot, one fifth have not received it. Professor Rowland Kao, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, commented, “Certainly, in my view, the message about ‘getting back to normal’ does have the impact of reducing the urgency of getting those fourth doses out.”
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