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Corona infections spiked by 50% in UK since last study in May: REACT-1 round 12 findings

Coronavirus. Stock Photo: Pixabay

London, June 17 (MNN) Coronavirus infections in England have increased by 50 per cent since the last REACT-1 report for period between April 15 and May 3, say the findings of 12th report of REACT-1.

The latest REACT-1 report also details which variants were detected in swab-positive test samples. Data suggest most COVID-19 infections are now the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.

Public Health England’s (PHE) latest weekly data also shows cases of Delta now account for 90 per cent of UK cases.

The REACT-1 study is one of the UK’s largest studies into COVID-19 infections in England and its findings were published on Thursday by the Imperial College at London and Ipsos MORI.

Almost 1,09,000 volunteers were tested with PCR tests in England between May 20 and June 7 to examine the levels of COVID-19 in the general population.

Findings show infections have increased by 50 per cent since the last REACT-1 study in May, with one in 670 people infected, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The main findings from the 12th round of the REACT study show:

• between rounds 11 (April 15 to May 3) and 12 (May 20 to June 7), national prevalence has increased from 0.10 per cent to 0.15 per cent

• exponential growth with a doubling time of 11 days and an R number of 1.44 in England during round 12

• the highest prevalence was found in the north-west at 0.26 per cent, up from 0.11 per cent in round 11; and lowest prevalence in round 12 was in the south-west at 0.05 per cent

• prevalence is highest in 5 to 12 and 18 to 24 year olds, rising from 0.16 per cent to 0.35 per cent and from 0.10 per cent to 0.36 per cent respectively

• prevalence in those aged 5 to 49 was 2.5 times higher at 0.20 per cent compared with those aged 50 and above at 0.08 per cent

• at the beginning of February, the link between infection rates and deaths started to weaken. In late April, infection rates and hospital admissions started to reconverge, however, when split by age, the weakened link between infection rates and hospitalisations for ages 65 and over was maintained. The trends converged for the younger age group who are less likely to be fully vaccinated.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These findings highlight the stark context in which we took the difficult decision to delay step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

“Cases are now rising, but thanks to our incredible vaccination programme and enhanced response package including surge testing, we have the tools to curb the spread of this virus.

“We all must hold our nerve that little bit longer as our vaccine rollout continues and I urge everyone to keep observing hands, face, space and fresh air, and make sure you receive both doses of the vaccine for the best possible protection.”

On Monday, the UK government confirmed a delay to unlocking step 4 of the roadmap which means all current legal limits on social interactions and restrictions on large events, performances and life events (with the exception of weddings) will stay in place until July 19, although if the data rapidly improves this could be brought forward to July 5, giving the population more time to be protected from COVID-19 through vaccination.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “We found strong evidence for exponential growth in infection from late May to early June in the REACT-1 study, with a doubling time of 11 days on average for England. These data coincide with the Delta variant becoming dominant and show the importance of continuing to monitor infection rates and variants of concern in the community.”

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director, Public Affairs at Ipsos MORI, said: “The rise in cases picked up by the REACT-1 study is concerning and is being fed into government decision making in real time. While the rise is small, the increase of the R number to over one highlights that number’s potential to increase rapidly, an important reminder to get vaccinated when you can.”

This report is the latest from the REACT-1 study which was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and carried out by a world-class team of scientists, clinicians and researchers at Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Ipsos MORI.

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