Omicron likely plateaued in UK, but 15% cases reinfections: Scientist


While Omicron infections have plateaued in London and could reduce in the next week, upto 15 per cent cases are reinfections, according to top scientist Prof Neil Ferguson.

Ferguson, a mathematical epidemiologist from Imperial College London, said the official headline case numbers did not include reinfections, but scientists see the reinfection numbers, the Guardian reported.

“The data we see includes reinfections. Between 10 and 15 per cent of Omicron cases are reinfections, so you have to just interpret the numbers through that lens,” Ferguson was quoted as saying.

According to the UK Health Security agency, there were 157,758 new people with a confirmed positive test result for coronavirus on January 3, and 1,189,985 people in the last 7 days. This shows an increase of 396,846 compared to the previous 7 days.

Ferguson cautioned that record cases numbers being reported were likely to be an underestimate because test supplies have run out in some areas.

But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “An epidemic reaching such high numbers can’t sustain those numbers forever. So we would expect to see case numbers start to come down in the next week, maybe already coming down in London, but in other regions, a week to three weeks.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic that infection rates in London in that key 18 to 50 age group, which has been driving the Omicron epidemic, may possibly have plateaued. It is too early to say whether they’re going down yet,” he added.

But he said that hospital admissions may take longer to plateau than case numbers because older people were infected later.

“This epidemic has spread so quickly (in the 18-50 age group) it hasn’t had time to really spread into the older age groups which are at much, much greater risk of severe outcomes and hospitalisation. So we may see a different pattern in hospitalisations. Hospitalisations are still generally going up across the country and we may see high levels for some weeks,” he said.

However, Ferguson noted that despite a recent doubling in Covid hospital admissions, the vaccinations were proving effective at preventing severe disease, the report said.


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