The United Kingdom’s coronavirus alert level has been lowered from four to three as COVID-19 cases continue to decline, and even two rare Omicron variant subtypes have been reclassified as a form of concern.
Health authorities said Friday that the current BA.2-powered omicron wave is “samsiding” but it is expected that the number of cases will increase due to the BA.4 and BA.5 subtypes, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) monitoring their growth. Has been promoted to classification.
The agency said it would continue to analyze growth as the full impact of the subtype remained “uncertain.”
Dr Mira Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “The reclassification of these forms as a form of concern reflects emerging evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 growth internationally and in the UK.”
“While the impact of these variants is uncertain, the goal of the variant classification approach is to identify potential risks as soon as possible. The UKHSA is conducting more detailed studies. Data and analysis will be released in a timely manner through our regular monitoring reports,” he said.
While the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are in the early stages of growth in the UK, an analysis of the available data suggests that they have the advantage over the currently dominant Omicron BA.2 variants.
There may be several reasons for the growth benefit, but BA.4 and BA.5 laboratory data indicate a degree of immune escape that could contribute, experts believe.
As of Thursday, the UKHSA said 115 confirmed cases of BA.4 and 80 cases of BA.5 were found in the UK.
While it is expected that variants may contribute to the increase in the number of cases, there is nothing to indicate the degree of increase in severity.
“Current BA.2-powered omicon waves are declining. Direct COVID-19 healthcare stress continues to decline across all countries and the ONS community’s perceptions of positivity continue to decline,” the health chiefs from all parts of the UK said in a joint statement. Friday.
“While it is reasonable to expect the number of cases to increase due to BA.4, BA.5 or BA2.12.1, it is unlikely to lead to significant direct COVID pressure immediately. It will continue to be reviewed,” they said.
The last warning level was raised in December last year as the Omicron variant spread rapidly.
The country’s coronavirus infection is now thought to be at a five-month low, according to a recent community-based analysis by the Office for National Statistics.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)