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Omicron sub-variant discussed by infectious disease expert

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Covid cases have stopped falling in the UK, signalling the viral infection is here to stay for a while. Omicron and its subvariants are expected to keep cases hovering over 100,00 a day for the time being. Omicron BA.2 is now the dominant strain in England, accounting for 94 percent of all cases, seretide or ventolin said Professor Tim Spector co-founder of the ZOE Covid Study app in his latest YouTube video.

Prof Spector and his team have been crunching the data submitted by users to its ZOE app to compare the symptom profile of the original strain of Omicron – BA.1 – with BA.2.

The ZOE app logs data from thousands of users every week to provide a real-time picture of the pandemic.

Before diving into the data, Prof Spector acknowledged that it’s a “bit crude and there are lots of caveats”.

Namely it’s hard to compare BA.1 infections to BA.2 without the ability to match for everything because both happened at different times of the year with different rates of immunisation, he noted.

How to spot the difference

“BA.2 symptoms are less severe than BA.1 and this is reflected in lower hospitalisation rates,” said Prof Spector.

According to the professor, there appeared to be less severe disease in the last three months of Omicron compared to the first three months.

“We were matching groups of people who got it in the first three months and the second three months and only using people who had the three vaccines between three and five months previously,” he explained.

Although the symptoms may be milder in BA.2, people generally experience more of them.

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“Respiratory symptoms, runny nose, delirium in older people, loss of smell and sneezing etc all more common in BA.2,” he reported.

Prof Spector continued: “We are seeing greater numbers of people with more than five symptoms.”

There are few exceptions, he pointed out. For example, there were less reports of headaches and abdominal pain in people with BA.2 than BA.1.

He concluded: “If you get it [BA.2] you will get the full package of symptoms but less likely to go to hospital but what we don’t know yet is the impact of long Covid.”

Covid – UK latest

According to the ZOE Covid Study incidence figures, in total there are currently 116,609 new daily symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average.

A decrease of six percent from 124,420 – the figure reported last week.

On average one in 35 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid.

The UK R-value is estimated to be around 0.9 and regional R values are; England, 0.0, Wales, 0.9, and Scotland, 1.0.

The R-value is a way of rating coronavirus or any disease’s ability to spread.

Commenting on the latest data, Prof Spector said: “After a number of weeks with cases steadily falling, we are now seeing a real slow down in the cases and we predict cases will stall around 100,000 new cases a day for a while.

“Scotland is the first region where cases appear to be trending upward again and the same is true for those aged 0-17 years old.

It is too early at this stage to know what is causing the slowdown but it’s a strong signal that Covid is not going to disappear this summer.”

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