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Expert reveals why EU Covid cases are soaring, but UK remains stable

by David Jinks MILT
25th Nov 21 9:07 am

A leading expert in Covid testing has explained why Covid-19 cases are soaring across most of the Continent, but have largely plateaued in the UK. Dr Quinton Fivelman, PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says that Covid appears to have become endemic in Britain, whereas for much of Europe it is still a full pandemic with cases increasing exponentially.

Dr Fivelman explains: ‘In a localised epidemic, or a full international pandemic, cases of a disease that is not normally found in the area grow quickly. That is the case in much of Europe currently with Covid-19. Countries such as Austria, the Netherlands and Germany are experiencing extremely sharp spikes in cases of the virus as the cold weather sets in, providing ideal conditions for Covid-19 to thrive.

‘In contrast, here in the UK, where cases were initially higher than most of Europe, but where there has also been a very strong uptake of vaccines and boosters, cases are now continuing to follow a more or less even baseline rate – despite the arrival of colder weather. That’s because Covid is now effectively endemic in the UK, meaning it has become a part of the “landscape” of indigenous diseases, in much the same way as influenza has.

‘That does not mean that we are, by any means, out of the woods yet, or that we have now achieved, to use the now infamous phrase, “herd immunity”. What it does mean is that, instead of sudden outbreaks of Covid-19 in areas it hadn’t previously reached, it has now roughly plateaued across the UK and case levels remain consistent.

‘Since the pandemic first hit the UK, there have been 9.8 million confirmed cases. Currently, 88% of people aged 12 and over have had their first vaccine dose and 80% have had their second. These levels rise significantly for over 18s. Additionally. 26% of us have had a booster jab. That means antibody levels across the UK are quite high currently, and Covid is finding it hard to spread at the rate seen across the Continent.

‘In contrast, many countries in Europe did not suffer so many cases initially, but neither have they achieved such a high vaccine uptake. That means there are vast swathes of European populations that have no protection against the virus, because Covid-19 is not yet a “native” disease for which the population as a whole has developed a level of immunity. For example, as a result of a record numbers of new cases, Austria is now in lockdown and other EU countries look set to follow suit.

‘This doesn’t mean that we can be complacent as the virus is still widely spreading. The fact Covid is now a part of the regular mix of viruses we contend with every day in the UK is clearly not unalloyed good news. People are still at risk of getting sick or hospitalised as with the flu every year. We also need to keep a close eye on antibody levels to ensure that the virus doesn’t find a new foothold, as the efficacy of the second vaccine diminishes over time. A simple finger prick antibody blood test can at least reassure us that we retain a level of immunity to the virus and protection from serious illness.

‘If anyone is concerned about their own immune response to the jabs and how well they continue to produce antibodies, the new generation blood tests available from London Medical Laboratory are highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either in their own home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics which offer this test across London and the southeast.

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