U.K. Sees First Death of a Person With Omicron as Government Warns of Wave of Cases

The U.K.’s first death of a person with the Zika virus was reported on Wednesday, and public health officials are warning that they expect more cases to emerge as mosquitoes continue to spread.

U.K. Sees First Death of a Person With Omicron as Government Warns of Wave of Cases

LONDON— The first death of a patient with Omicron was recorded in the United Kingdom on Monday, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as the nation confronts a “tidal wave” of cases of the new strain.

It was unclear if the variation was the cause of death or where the individual caught it. The person was diagnosed at a hospital, according to the UK Health Security Agency, but no information about his or her vaccination status was provided.

According to the United Kingdom’s health service, there are presently roughly 200,000 daily Omicron infections in the nation, with 4,713 verified instances of the variation. In England, the variation currently accounts for more than 20% of Covid-19 cases.

It further said that ten patients, ranging in age from 18 to 85, have been hospitalized with Omicron in various regions of England after being diagnosed on or before admission. The majority had got two doses of the vaccination.

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On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a visit to a vaccination clinic in London.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Jeremy Selwyn

Mr. Johnson said the death served as a reminder of the dangers that the government confronts as it rushes to provide a third Covid-19 vaccine shot to the adult population by the end of the year. More than 23 million people, or about 43% of those eligible, have received a booster shot so far.

Mr. Johnson added, “We can see Omicron spiking now.” “We have to put the concept that this is a milder variant of the virus to one side.”

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Mr. Johnson warned that by Tuesday, the highly transmissible strain would be responsible for the bulk of Covid-19 infections in London. The number of Omicron cases is increasing every two to three days, according to the authorities.

To gain time to vaccinate its population, Britain imposed a slew of social-distancing measures this week, including requiring individuals to work from home and provide evidence of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to enter select establishments like nightclubs.

Even with these limits in place, according to recent modeling by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, hospitalizations might peak in January, with between 1,700 and 3,600 people hospitalized every day. There were roughly 4,000 hospital admissions per day during the last big Covid-19 epidemic in the United Kingdom.

In the worst-case situation, hospitalization might be twice that amount, according to epidemiologists at the institution.

The researchers stated that “further control measures may be necessary to limit disease loads and safeguard healthcare services.”

Early evidence suggests that the Omicron variety is better at avoiding vaccine-induced antibodies, and this has a lot to do with what’s going on at the molecular level. Daniela Hernandez of the Wall Street Journal explains.

Mr. Johnson refused to rule out the possibility of further Covid-19 limitations before the holidays. According to the authorities, Omicron might cause a million illnesses by the end of the year. It has sought the support of the army to provide vaccines. There have, however, been issues. A government website for free fast Covid-19 testing broke early Monday, while a website administered by the state-controlled National Health Service for arranging vaccines was swamped.

In lab trials, two doses of either the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine or the AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford vaccine were shown to be substantially less efficient in protecting against the Omicron form than the presently prevalent Delta version. Neutralizing antibody levels against Omicron were a thirtieth of those against Delta for both vaccinations.

The researchers stated they were testing how well patients who had their immune systems enhanced fared against Omicron. According to a research published last week by Pfizer, a third dosage of the vaccine restores the neutralizing antibody response to a level capable of combating Omicron.

Teresa Lambe, professor of vaccinology and immunology at the Oxford Vaccine Group and one of the study’s authors, stated, “I’m still extremely confident that our vaccinations will protect us from serious sickness and hospitalization.” Prof. Lambe was also a part of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine development team.

—This essay was co-written by Denise Roland and Joanna Sugden.

Max Colchester can be reached at [email protected].

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