Scientists have warned that the new wave of infections has started as two Corona virus infection covid subvariants have led to a surge in cases.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, more than 1.7 million people have contracted the virus in the UK, a weekly increase of 23 per cent. This growth is largely due to omicron options BA.4 and BA.5, according to the ONS.
More than two years after the first cases in the UK, millions of Britons have contracted the virus, and some have contracted it multiple times.
But how likely is re-infection and what protection do vaccines and boosters offer?
Here’s everything you need to know:
How common are repeated covid infections?
When the Omicron variant reached Great Britain last December, the rate of re-infection increased 15 times.
Omicron’s extensive mutation allowed the virus to overcome established immunity, scientists believe.
This is why so many people who have been vaccinated or had the virus get it again at Christmas.
This was told by Danny Altman, professor of immunology at Imperial College London Guardian Omicron is “poorly immunogenic, meaning that infection with it provides little additional protection against reinfection.”
Although the new BA.4 and BA.5 variants come from the Omicron line, “there is now additional evidence very little ability of the previous Omicron to create any immune memory for BA.4 or BA.5,” said Professor Altman.
This suggests that even if you had Omicron during the Christmas and New Year wave, you can still catch the virus again.
Professor Tim Spector, who directs Zoe’s Health Study told Guardian: “There are definitely a lot of people who had Covid earlier in the year who got it again, including some with BA.4/5 who had BA.1/2 just four months ago and who thought will be protected. .”
However, the professor added that re-infection with Covid within three months is “rare”.
What if I have been vaccinated?
The new BA.4 and BA.5 variants contain mutations not present in the early Omicron strains.
So even if you’ve been vaccinated and revaccinated, you’re still vulnerable to the new subvariants.
Researchers from China reported in Friday in nature that the new subvariants “significantly evade neutralizing antibodies induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination.”
Vaccine boosters based on the BA.1 virus, such as those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, “may not achieve broad-spectrum protection against the new Omicron variants,” the researchers warned.
“My personal bias is that while there might be some benefit to having an Omicron-specific vaccine, I think it would be a minor advantage compared to keeping existing vaccines and boosters,” said Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious disease researcher. from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
“Despite the suppression of immunity, vaccines can still be expected to protect against serious diseases,” said Dr. Ogbuagu.
“If you have to make a booster, make one. What we’ve learned clinically is that it’s very important to be up-to-date on vaccines” to maintain high levels of circulating antibodies against COVID-19 in the blood.
How severe will my symptoms be if I get reinfected?
As a rule, infections occur more easily the second or third time due to residual immunity developed in the body.
However, according to preliminary data from the University of Tokyo’s Kei Sato and colleagues, the new subvariants may have evolved to favor infection of lung cells rather than upper airway tissue.
This makes them more like the earlier and tougher versions of Alpha and Delta.
Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said: “It looks like these things switch back to a more dangerous form of infection, so they go down into the lungs.”
While it’s too early to tell whether symptoms will be more aggressive in cases of re-infection, the risk of these new Omicron variants is “potentially greater than the original BA.2,” Sato said.