Across England Covid has hit a record high and there are “worrying signs” of a “twin peaks” which has been caused by the two Omicron variants.
Data compiled by Imperial College London’s React-1 study has revealed the worst is yet to come as deaths and hospitisations are rising.
The data from the React-1 study has revealed that BA.1 and BA.2 have caused a twin peak in the pandemic at the start of the years and another in March.
Professor Christl Donnelly, Jameel Institute, Imperial College London, and Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, said, “It’s still the case that if you see more infection, you would expect, even if it’s a very small proportion of those, to see more of the severe outcomes.
“So we don’t yet know when we’ll see a peak in the oldest age group – the 55 plus – and because those people are at higher risk of severe outcomes, that is a particular worry.
“It is possible if the prevalence continues to go up, that you will see further increases in the severe outcome rates.”
The published study said, “We observed Omicron ‘twin peaks’ as BA.1 replaced Delta and BA.2 replaced BA.1, while at the same time, society opened up with all legal restrictions related to Covid-19 in England lifted as part of its ‘Living with Covid-19’ strategy.
“Nonetheless there are worrying signs of increasing hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19 in England during March 2022, which may reflect the very high and increasing rates of infection, particularly in older people.
“These trends in England may presage what might be expected in the USA and other countries as BA.2 takes hold as the predominant variant worldwide.”
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme, and chairman in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Imperial College London, said, “One thing we’ve learned and is very, very clear looking at that whole pattern over the 23 months, is things go along and then something happens.
“It is really important that there is continued surveillance looking for these new variants, and I believe that will be the case.
“As part of the ongoing surveillance of Sars-CoV-2 Covid-19 there is going to be a sequencing facility looking nationally at these variants and picking them up as they appear in the population.”
Responding to the findings, Doctor Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation warned, “We are now seeing record numbers of people currently infected with Covid, and it’s particularly concerning to note the unprecedented and still rising levels in older people.
“Nearly 20,000 people are now in hospital with Covid in England and the NHS, and its exhausted staff are once again really struggling to cope with increasing admissions and bed occupancy.
“NHS leaders and their teams are increasing their Covid services and reopening coronavirus wards, but the Government must take heed, combined with chronic staff shortages, and a waiting list backlog that now tops 6.1 million, we really need a realistic conversation about the current situation in the health service.”