Covid subvariant fears as UK warned of MAJOR new wave in January - 'Antibody protection is waning'
Covid-19 infections increased in England and Scotland earlier this month
A new subvariant of Omicron is currently sweeping through the UK, with a new Covid wave expected to hit as early as January, according to an expert.
With booster shot uptake being low, it is possible the subvariant could be to blame for cases of the virus rising in December.
One in 45 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in some areas since the end of October.
Speaking to the Express, Dr Stephen Griffin from School of Medicine at Leeds University said the infection rate is likely to continue to rise into the start of 2023.
"I can see no reason why the forthcoming wave will not continue to increase. We have no sensible mitigations in place that would allow us to interact in a safer way.
“We have been left with a culture based upon self-assessment of individual risk, which cannot possibly be an informed assessment given the lack of testing, and no societal or infrastructure improvements or investment as is happening in other countries."
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Covid-19 infections increased in England and Scotland earlier this month, while the trend in Wales and Northern Ireland was uncertain, figures show.
A total of 1.4 million people in private households in the UK were likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to December 9.
This was up from 1.1 million in late November but below the two million weekly infections in early October.
The estimates published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) give a snapshot of what was happening in the UK at the start of December, when coronavirus was starting to become more prevalent among the population.
More recent data shows the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England, Scotland and Wales is on a clear upward trend, with patients in England up 29% in the past week to the highest level for nearly two months.
The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of coronavirus and is based on a sample of swab tests from households across the UK.
There is a lag in the reporting of the data due to the time it takes for the survey to be compiled, however.
With the country’s antibody levels likely to be decreasing as a result of a long gap between vaccinations, Dr Griffin warned that could make challenging the new subvariant harder.
"New omicron subvariants are increasingly dominant and they are even more capable of evading antibody responses than even BA.4/5 were over the summer. This is important because many of us will not have had a vaccine for some time now, meaning that antibody levels in the blood have naturally declined.
"The booster programme targeted at the elderly and clinically vulnerable has sadly faltered for the age groups under 70 in particular – only around half of 50-59 year olds have taken up this offer.”
The expert attacked the government for a lack of action in dealing with a rise in Covid cases.
"The Government ought not to be surprised by this; if you spend most of the time saying a disease is nothing to worry about, it follows that people will be less inclined to understand the need for booster vaccinations.
"The fact that a large number of especially younger adults and children remain unprotected by vaccines, the offer has been withdrawn from children turning five since September, and the MHRA-approved vaccines for under fives remain to be reviewed, speaks to the UK yet again being well off the pace in terms of vaccine coverage. The level of reinfections and prevalence amongst younger people is shocking as a result."
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