Cases hit 1.8 million in the latest weekly figures, a 23% week-on-week increase as the UK faces its fifth record number of Covid infections, experts have warned.
More worryingly, hospitalizations increased by 31% in March, a higher rate than Omicron’s recent revival.
“The new wave is just starting,” Professor Christina Bagel said during a recent conference of the Independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Emergencies (SAGE).
“We will have a new wave of infection this month. Now, I hope it’s not as loud as the previous two waves and maybe smaller. But we can’t count on that, anyway, we’re going to see more people getting infected.”
The situation first became apparent when a 43% increase in coronavirus cases was reported after a four-day holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Other major summer gatherings such as Glastonbury, Notting Hill Carnival and Edinburgh Festival are feared to turn into super-broadcast events if proper precautions are not taken.
The increase is driven by Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subtypes, which spread rapidly across the UK in December 2021 and January 2022, then gradually decline.
These latest incarnations were first discovered in South Africa in January and February respectively, and are Omicron’s grandchildren.
They have three mutations in their spike proteins that are feared to allow them to resume their attack on human lung cells.
This means they have more in common with the earlier alpha and delta types, and are more contagious but less lethal than Omicron, which targets upper respiratory tract tissue.
Potentially, these mutations allow subvariants to evade antibodies from previous infections or vaccinations and thus overcome immunity.
While the situation in the UK is worrying, prompting fears of a return to masks and social distancing or draconian measures, how are Covid case numbers in the rest of the world right now?
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Wednesday that the two Omicron subtypes are causing rising rates of Covid infection in no fewer than 110 countries around the world. April.
WHO control panelReporting case numbers over the past seven days, the United States now tops the global league table (understandable for its population size) with 691,764 new cases in the past week, followed by Germany with 529,032 and Brazil with 374,445.
Followed by Italy 363,196, France 339,181, China 316,349, Australia 202,339 and Spain 118,421.
Then England is at 108,521, followed by Japan (105,434), India (99,433) and Portugal (75,874).
Johns Hopkins University Global map Provides a longer view, ranking countries based on the number of new Covid cases seen after the last 28 days.
The United States topped the list with 2.98 million infections last month, followed by Germany with 1.68 million, Taiwan with 1.65 million, France with 1.31 million and Brazil with 1.18 million.
Italy has risen again, reporting 922,012 new infections in the past four weeks, while Australia (769,458), Portugal (471,278), Japan (431,558), Spain (407,774) and the United Kingdom (368,568) have seen a resurgence.
Back in Britain, Professor Adam Finn, a member of the government’s Joint Committee on Immunization and Vaccines, has already called for a new round of booster vaccines to be available by September to combat waning immunity, more than six months after the outbreak. Big vaccination campaign before Christmas.
“Booster protection wears off, mainly against mild infections and after a while against serious infections. So it’s disappointing for all of us about these vaccines, which are so valuable in terms of infection,” he told BBC Radio 4. Today Monday’s show.
“But we need to provide reinforcements, especially for those who are at risk of becoming more seriously ill if they stay later in the year.”
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