Two-thirds of Covid cases in England during Omicron wave may have been REINFECTIONS, official data suggests
- Government-backed REACT-1 found 4.4 per cent of people had Covid last month
- Prevalence was at highest ever level but infections dropped off over the month
- 2,315 of the 3,582 positive tests in the sample (64.6%) were reinfections
Two-thirds of people in England who had Covid at the start of 2022 may have been reinfected, official data suggests.
One of the country’s largest surveillance studies — which randomly tested 100,000 people in the fortnight ending January 20 — found 4.4 per cent had the virus.
Imperial College London experts, who carry out the project, said it was the highest rate ever recorded, mirroring other swabbing surveys which showed how Omicron triggered infections to reach pandemic highs.
The team also claimed England’s Covid outbreak was now starting to plateau after the Omicron wave ‘rapidly’ dropped off on its own.
Analysis of the data showed 2,315 (64.6 per cent) of the 3,582 people who tested positive and were asked about whether they had previously had Covid claimed to have been struck down before.
And a further 267 (7.5 per cent) suspected they had caught Covid previously, even though their case was not confirmed with a test at the time.
Graph shows: 2,315 of the 3,582 positive tests in the sample (64.6 per cent) were people who said they had Covid before. And a further 267 (7.5 per cent) suspect they had been infected before, even though the case was not confirmed with a test at the time
Government-backed REACT-1 data, based on more than 100,000 tests, found more than 4.4 per cent of people in the country had the virus from January 5 to 20. Prevalence was at its highest ever level and infections are now starting to plateau after ‘rapidly dropping’ off throughout the month
Overall, despite high prevalence last month, cases have been dropping in all age groups other than those 17 and under
It was highest in those aged five- to 11-year-olds over the course of the month (7.81 per cent) and lowest in those aged 75 and over (2.43 per cent)
Regionally, Covid was most prevalent in the North East, where 6.85 per cent of residents had the virus during the month
Inly 2.93 per cent of people in the South East ended up testing positive during the month
Getting Covid after being fully-jabbed triggers ‘super-immunity’
Fully-vaccinated people who catch Covid end up with ‘super immunity’, scientists have claimed.
Oregon Health and Science University experts say the same is also true for people who get infected before getting two jabs.
Academics took blood samples from more than 100 fully-vaccinated volunteers and exposed them against three different strains of coronavirus.
Volunteers with ‘hybrid’ immunity produced an ‘amazingly high’ antibody response, tests showed.
Their antibodies were 10 times more potent than proteins made by participants who managed to dodge Covid completely.
Despite the study being carried out before the emergence of Omicron, the authors believe the findings will hold up against the highly-transmissible variant.
And the high levels of protection among those with hybrid immunity could see the virus become a ‘mostly mild’ infection and bring about the end of the pandemic, the researchers said.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme, told a press briefing: ‘What we are essentially seeing is the same sort of people catching Covid before are catching it again.’
The REACT-1 data suggests one in 23 people in England were infected with the virus over that two-week period.
Despite extremely high prevalence last month, cases have been dropping in all age groups other than under-18s.
It was highest in those aged five- to 11-year-olds over the course of the month (7.81 per cent) and lowest in those aged 75 and over (2.43 per cent).
Professor Elliott added: ‘There is good news in our data in that infections had been rapidly dropping during January.
‘But they are still extremely high and may have recently stalled at a very high prevalence.
‘Of particular concern is that there is rapidly increasing prevalence among children now they are mixing more following the start of the school term.
‘And, compared with December, prevalence in older people aged 65 and over has increased seven- to 12-fold, which may lead to increased hospitalisations.
‘It’s therefore vital that we continue to monitor the situation closely to understand the impact of the Omicron variant, which now makes up almost all infections in the country.’
Regionally, Covid was most prevalent in the North East, where 6.85 per cent of residents had the virus during the month.
In comparison only 2.93 per cent of people in the South East ended up testing positive during the month.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘It’s reassuring to see Covid infections beginning to slow across the country, as we move back to Plan A.
‘Covid rates are still high so as we learn to live with the virus it is vital we continue to be vigilant — wash your hands, let in fresh air, get tested and, if you haven’t already, get boosted now.’