Covid fears as UK warns of major new wave in January – ‘antibody protection wanes’

Covid-19 infections increased in England and Scotland earlier this month

A new variant of Omicron is currently sweeping the UK, with a new wave of Covid expected in January, according to an expert.

With lower uptake of the booster vaccine, the surrogate was likely responsible for the December spike in cases of the virus.

One in 45 people has tested positive for Covid-19 in some areas since the end of October.

Speaking to The Express, Dr Stephen Griffin of the University of Leeds Medical School said the infection rate was likely to continue to rise until the start of 2023.

“I can’t see a reason why the next wave wouldn’t continue to increase. We don’t have reasonable mitigations that would allow us to react in a safer way.

“We are left with a culture based on self-assessment of individual risk, which cannot be an informed assessment given the lack of testing, and the lack of community or infrastructure improvements or investments as is happening in other countries.”

Figures show that Covid-19 infections increased in England and Scotland earlier this month, while the trend in Wales and Northern Ireland is uncertain.

1.4 million people in private homes in the UK are likely to have tested positive for coronavirus in the week ending 9 December.

This was up from 1.1 million in late November but down from the 2 million weekly infections in early October.

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 began to spread further through the population.

The latest data shows that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in England, Scotland and Wales is on a clear upward trend, with patients in England rising by 29% in the past week to the highest level in nearly two months.

The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the spread of coronavirus and is based on a sample of swab tests from households across the UK.

However, there is a delay in reporting the data due to the time it takes to compile the survey.

With antibody levels likely to drop in the country as a result of the long gap between vaccinations, Dr. Griffin warned that it could make challenging the new variant more difficult.

“The new omicron sub-variants are increasingly prevalent and are better able to evade antibody responses than even BA.4/5 over the summer. This is important because many of us will not have a vaccine for some time now, meaning antibody levels have dropped in blood normally.

“The booster program targeting the elderly and clinically frail has unfortunately faltered for the under-70 age group in particular – only about half of people aged 50-59 have accepted this offer.”

The expert attacked the government for its inaction in dealing with the rise in Covid cases.

“The government should not be surprised by this; if you spend most of the time saying that the disease is nothing to worry about, it means that people will be less inclined to understand the need for booster vaccinations.

“The fact that so many adults and children in particular are still not protected with vaccines, supply has been withdrawn from five-year-olds since September, and MHRA-approved vaccines for children under five still have to be reviewed speaks to the UK again. Being okay with the pace of vaccine coverage. As a result, the level of re-infection and spread among young people is shocking.”

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