Omicron sub-variant discussed by infectious disease expert
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Daily Covid cases passed a grim milestone on the two-year anniversary of the pandemic on Thursday. The UK surpassed 300,000 for the first time. The surge is thought to be driven by Omicron BA.2 – a highly contagious subvariant of Omicron.
In his latest YouTube video, Professor Tim Spector, epidemiologist and scientist on the Zoe Covid Study app – a portal where users can log their symptoms and register positive cases – has slammed the Government for not taking the pandemic seriously.
There is a woeful “lack of public health advice” as symptomatic cases rocket, he said.
“This total vacuum we are seeing from the Government could be having a big impact on how we handle Covid.”
Prof Spector continues: “That’s why symptom awareness is so important. If you don’t know about the symptoms, you don’t know to self-isolate and you don’t know to not meet someone vulnerable.
“It’s been 719 days since we pointed this out to the Government but they are stubbornly still refusing to acknowledge this and tell people what’s really going on.”
The source of Prof Spector’s ire is the Government’s obstinance in the face of evolving data.
The NHS website still lists the main symptoms of COVID-19 as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
While these symptoms were associated with the initial wave, successive variants have given rise to new symptoms.
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Commenting on the latest data generated to the ZOE app, Prof Spector said: “You can see 85 percent of all positive cases start with a runny nose. Why is the Government not telling them [public].”
He continued: “It’s not that hard. Why are they not telling hospitals and care homes to stop visitors coming in if they’ve got that [runny nose].”
Prof Spector added: “Covid now more common than the cold.”
Current top 20 symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Persistent cough
- Hoarse voice
- Chills or shivers
- Unusual joint pain
- Brain fog
- Eye soreness
- Altered smell
- Lower back pain
- Unusual muscle pains
- Swollen glands
- Skipped meals
- Ear ringing.
What is driving the current wave?
It is widely thought Omicron BA.2 – a subvariant of Omicron – is behind the current surge in cases.
BA.2 is significantly more transmissible than BA.1, although it is still not clear whether it causes more severe disease.
Former World Health Organisation (WHO) epidemiologist, Professor Adrian Esterman, told ABC News: “Omicron BA.2 is about 1.4 times more infectious than BA.1. The basic reproduction number (R0) for BA.1 is about 8.2, making R0 for BA.2 about 12.
“This makes it pretty close to measles, the most contagious disease we know about.”
To stave off the threat of new variants as restrictions lift, the Government has offered vulnerable groups a spring booster COVID-19 vaccine.
People aged 75 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, and those with weakened immune systems will be offered the booster.
Appointments are available from the National Booking Service.
If the number of infections increases over the summer, this booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
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