Experts are warning that the covid pandemic is “not over” after an increase in cases among the older population has been recorded.
They say they are worried following the detection of a subvariant, BA.2 dubbed ‘Stealth Covid’ and recommend vaccination as the best source of protection
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According to reports, the new Stealth Omicron variant is more transmissible and proving difficult when trying to differentiate with standard covid tests.
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The reason for this could be down to an increase in socialising between age groups ever since restrictions were lifted or booster jabs starting to wear off.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “These data confirm that cases have declined substantially following the peak of the Omicron wave.
“However, the increasing presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron and the recent slight increase in infections in those over 55 show that the pandemic is not over and that we can expect to see Covid circulating at high levels.
“Vaccination remains the best way to protect us all from severe disease and hospitalisation due to Covid-19 infection. We urge you to come forward for your primary or booster doses straight away if you have not already done so.”
The latest findings from the React-1 study, covering February 8 to March 1 – round 18 of the study, show that prevalence in England during this period was 2.88 per cent.
A decrease from the 4.41 per cent reported in round 17 covering January 5 to January 20 2022 but still the second highest recorded rate of cases since the study began in 2020.
This suggests that around the time the data was collected, one in 35 people in England had contracted coronavirus.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of Imperial College London’s React programme, said the increasing number of BA.2 cases needs to be monitored carefully.
“It is more transmissible. We are seeing an uptick in infections, particularly in the older group, and we are seeing an uptick in hospitalisations,” said Prof Elliott.