Rising cases of COVID-19 in the UK could serve as a warning to the US

There are indications that an autumn Covid-19 wave may be approaching the United Kingdom, and experts believe the United States may not be far behind.

Although multiple coronavirus variants are gaining strength in the US and Europe, a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in England does not appear to be caused by a new coronavirus variation, at least not at this time.

“Typically, the US reacts to events in the UK around a month later. According to Dr. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College London, “I think this is what I’ve sort of been seeing.”

Spector directs the Zoe Health Study, which allows participants in the US and the UK to report their daily symptoms through an app. They perform a Covid-19 test at home and record the findings if they start to feel unwell. In order to track trends in the epidemic, he claims that roughly 500,000 people are currently logging their symptoms every day.

According to Spector, the study, which has been underway since the first lockdown in England in 2020, has correctly identified the beginning of each wave, and its numbers are typically one to two weeks ahead of those provided by the government.

The Zoe investigation discovered a 30% spike in reported Covid-19 instances within the previous week after witnessing a declining trend for the previous few weeks.

This is unquestionably the start of the next wave, according to our most recent statistics, Spector said.

Although it was not as significant as the rises reported by Zoe loggers, that spike was also reflected in official UK government figures on Friday.

After dropping for over two months, the seven-day average of new cases in England and Wales increased 13% over the previous week, according to data from the National Health Service, for the week ending September 17. In comparison to the week prior, the seven-day average of hospitalizations increased by 17% in the week ending September 19.

The evidence is consistent with what models in the US and the UK projected would occur.

“They projected that we would have a peak in June to July, followed by a month of inactivity in August, a flattening off in September, and a resumption in October. Therefore, it exactly matches what the modelers had predicted, according to Spector.

According to some projections, Covid-19 instances will start to climb again in the US in October and carry on through the winter. Experts are optimistic that this wave won’t be as lethal as those we’ve seen in recent years because the majority of the population now has some underlying immunity to the coronavirus.

Is this a wave or just a blip?

What is causing the surge in the UK or whether it will continue are both unknown.

According to Kevin McConway, an emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University in Milton Keynes, England, “These trends may persist for more than a week or two, or they may not.”

He claims that when looking at trends by age, younger adults (those between the ages of 25 and 34) and teenagers who are close to middle school age are clearly on the rise.

In a statement to the nonprofit Science Media Centre, McConway said: “It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some increase in infection as people come back from summer vacations and as the schools reopen.” Even if it is, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that it will do so in the near future.

He is not the only one who feels that more information is necessary before declaring the beginning of a new wave.

“The first question is: How significant is that increase? Dr. Peter Hotez, who co-directs the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, asked, “Is it, for example, the beginning of something, a new wave, or is this a temporary blip because of all of the coming together around the Queen’s funeral and other events that have been going on?”

If a new variety is responsible for the increase, it will be a second crucial question to ask.

“That’s the worst scenario imaginable. Because traditionally, when that circumstance arises in the UK, it manifests itself in the US within a few weeks,” Hotez remarked. “That was true of the Omicron and its subvariants, that was true of the Alpha wave, that was true of the Delta wave.”

The function of novel variations

That’s where the US might get lucky this time.

Christina Pagel, a professor of operational research at University College London, believes that a mix of declining immunity and behavioral changes is to blame for the rise in cases in the UK rather than new varieties.

Many individuals in the UK have had their most recent COVID-19 booster or illness for several months, and according to government figures, only 8% of those 50 and older have received an Omicron-specific vaccine since the government’s fall vaccination campaign was launched in September. After the summer break, school and work have fully started, and as the weather gets colder, people are staying inside more often.

Additionally, Americans’ immune systems are deteriorating and taking longer to strengthen. According to CDC data, just 35% of individuals for whom a booster is advised have received one.

The updated boosters in the US and the UK are a little bit dissimilar. In order to combat the outdated version of Omicron, which is no longer prevalent, the UK uses vaccines. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which are now generating infections both domestically and overseas, have been added to the revised US boosters. It’s unclear whether the variations in strains will affect disease incidence or severity.

A variety of novel varieties, including offspring of BA.4 and BA.5, are in the works. Even though they only make up a small part of all cases, several are spreading against BA.5, which is still the predominant transmission agent.

According to Pagel in an email to CNN, “it is very likely that these will accelerate current increases and cause a substantial wave in October” in the UK.

That conclusion is shared by other professionals.
According to Nathan Grubaugh, a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, “There is talk about a bunch of lineages with concerning mutations, including BA.2.75, BQ.1.1, etc., but none of these are of high enough frequency in the UK right now to be driving the change in cases.”

He claims that, for the time being at least, the mix of mutations in the UK and the US appears to be very similar.

It’s reasonable to assume that a new COVID wave (or ripple) will be on the horizon given the rise in respiratory viruses that are currently being seen in the US, the author stated.

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