COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc since first breaking out in Wuhan, China on Dec. 12, 2019. Since then there have been several variants and surges emerging causing mandates and restrictions to stop and start.
Recently COVID cases have begun to ease all around the world causing face mask mandates and other restrictions to dissipate. However, a little more than two weeks after the United Kingdom (U.K.) dropped its last COVID mitigation measure, cases and hospitalizations have begun to climb once again. This is causing other countries to become concerned about new cases arising in their areas.
Last week’s cases in the U.K. jumped up 48% compared to the week prior. Over the same time, period hospitalization cases went up 17%. The U.K.’s COVID daily case rate is around 55,000. This is still less than a third of the Omicron peak, however, they are quickly rising.
The virus is causing the daily case count to rise in more than half of the countries in the European Union. Over the past week, the Netherlands has seen an increase of 48% and Germany 20%, according to data gathered by John Hopkins University.
Germany’s daily cases have yet to drop below pre-Omicron levels and the Netherlands did not have cases drop as much as the U.K.
Public health officials have started paying close attention to the rising cases in Europe for two reasons:
- The rising cases in the U.K. could be a glimpse into what may happen in the United States (U.S.).
- This wave of COVID cases seems to be more unusual than previous surges.
Previously, the COVID wave’s hospitalizations lagged behind spikes in cases roughly 10 to 14 days. In recent cases in the U.K., the daily count and hospitalizations are rising in tandem. The oddity of this go-around has experts puzzled.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated, “So we’re obviously keenly interested in what’s going on with that.” He spoke with his U.K. counterparts who have pegged the rise of COVID cases to a combination of three factors:
- Waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection.
- The opening of society, with people mingling more indoors without masks.
- The BA.2 variant, is more transmissible than the original Omicron.
The U.K. Health Security Agency stated the BA.2 had an 80% higher growth rate than the original Omicron strain. However, this COVID strain does not seem likely to be causing more severe disease — at least not among the highly vaccinated British community. This is why experts are puzzled about the increase of hospitalizations from the BA.2.
It is unclear what the future will look like for people around the world with COVID-19 still having a high presence. As always it is better to be safe than sorry, so take precautions, wear masks when around a large crowd, and check into vaccines. Doing this may save the lives of oneself, family, or friends.
Written by Sheena Robertson
CNN: What rising Covid-19 infections in the UK and Europe could mean for the US; by Brenda Goodman and Deidre McPhillips
The Washington Post: A covid surge in Western Europe has U.S. bracing for another wave; by Lenny Bernstein and Joel Achenbach
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