Coronavirus booster vaccines to be offered to over 50s in Autumn
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Recent figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) suggests one in 19 people in the UK now have coronavirus.
To put this in context, this is the highest Covid prevalence since mass testing began.
If Covid was seen as seasonal before, it isn’t now.
However, this wave isn’t random; it’s a combination of several key factors.
One of the main driving factors are two new sub-variants of the dominant variant Omicron.
Known as BA.4 and BA.5, these have driven case numbers skyrocketing across not just the UK, but Europe as well.
Other key factors include the lack of restrictions.
In the UK at least, there are no Covid restrictions and no legal requirement to self-isolate if one tests positive for the virus, although the NHS does recommend this if someone tests positive.
As a result, the virus is quite simply uninhibited.
However, there is a third factor to consider.
How the virus has changed.
In the same way the country’s response to the virus has evolved, so too has the virus itself.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the virus caused symptoms which separated it from other viruses such as a continuous cough and, most notably, a loss or change to the senses of taste and smell.
Fast forward two years and the virus now presents with symptoms closer to those found in seasonal illnesses such as cold and flu.
In fact, it now shares one “initiating symptom” with the former condition.
The symptom in question, says vice president of Atrium Health Kate Passaretti, is a sore throat.
According to Passaretti, people with the BA.5 sub-variant now present with sore throats and fevers.
Passaretti said: “Covid tends to present similarly and the presentation may vary from person to person, but the most common stuff we’re seeing are fevers, congestion, [and] sore throat.
“Often the sore throat is the kind of initiating symptom and then the rest kind of come on.”
However, since a sore throat is a common symptom of multiple conditions, many people are continuing with their daily lives and not testing because they think it could be something other than Covid; a problem exacerbated by the absence of free testing which has removed the incentive to find out one’s Covid status.
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