CCP virus infections appear to be slowing or falling among young and middle-aged people just over one month after all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in England, a new study has shown.
As part of the UK government’s plan for “living with COVID,” all COVID-19 laws in England were scrapped on Feb. 24, including the legal requirement for people who test positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus to isolate.
According to data from Imperial College London’s latest React-1 study, based on almost 110,000 swab tests taken between March 8 and 31, COVID-19 infections in England climbed to a record level in March, with around 1 in 16 people testing positive during this period, or 6.37 percent of the population.
This new wave of infections was caused by the emergence of a new strain of the Omicron variant—BA.2—which is even more transmissible than the original BA.1 strain, which caused a previous peak in January.
Researchers said that infections have risen in all age groups and remain highest in primary school-aged children.
However, the study found that, towards the end of the study period, there was a “possible decrease in prevalence” in those aged 5 to 17 and a “possible plateauing prevalence” in those aged 18 to 54.
Professor Paul Elliott, chairman in epidemiology at Imperial College London and director of the React programme, said: “We are reassured that [the rates] in younger groups seem to be coming down—they can’t go up forever.”
But he said it was “worrying” that this slowing trend was not seen in older people above the age of 55, where infections were found to still be rising.
Commenting on the findings, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK is “leading the way in learning to live with the virus.”
“Despite high infection rates, the population now has much stronger protection against COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic,” he said.
According to the latest results, the vast majority of the positive samples were of the new BA.2 strain of Omicron.
As of March 22, the research team estimated that 94.7 percent of the samples were BA.2, which has almost completely replaced BA.1 as the dominant strain.
Researchers also detected a very small number of recombinant Omicron variants, which are hybrids of the original BA.1 strain and BA.2.
But they said it has not been possible to tell from the data whether these variants are more transmissible than others, because the number of these recombinants was so small.
PA Media contributed to this report.