Data | What preliminary data tells us about the Omicron surge in the U.K.

Initial data from the U.K. suggest that cases are rising at a faster pace during the Omicron wave compared to the Alpha and Delta waves

Last week, the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency had estimated that a staggering 2 lakh people had been infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Since the arrival of Omicron, cases are rising rapidly in the U.K., nearing over 70,000 a day — the highest since the pandemic started. Moreover, initial data from the U.K. suggest that the cases are rising at a faster pace during the Omicron wave compared to the Alpha and Delta waves. Also, the number of hospitalisations is higher than in the Delta wave and close to the figures recorded during the Alpha wave. More worryingly, hospital admissions among the 18- 64 age group are higher than the previous waves. It is worth noting that the vaccination rate is relatively lower among younger people, making them more vulnerable.

Surge in cases

The chart shows the average daily COVID-19 cases reported in the U.K. during the three waves — Omicron (December 1 to December 18 – 18 days), Delta (June 1 to November 30 – 183 days) and the Alpha (since October 1, 2020 (243 days). The number of daily cases reported during the initial days of the Omicron wave is significantly higher than the peaks observed during the Alpha and Delta waves.

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Rising hospital admissions

The chart shows the new hospital admissions in the U.K. during the three waves. Daily average hospital admissions in the U.K. during the initial days of the Omicron wave are nearing 900 a day. Number of admissions in the initial days are closer to the Alpha wave and markedly higher than those reported during the Delta wave.

Young at a higher risk

The chart shows average daily admissions in England among the 18 to 64 age group during the Alpha, Delta and Omicron waves. The number of hospitalisations among the cohort is sharply rising and significantly higher than those observed during the initial days of the other two waves. Hospital admissions (18-64 age group) in England are nearing 400 a day, higher than the past two waves.

Young are more vulnerable

The chart depicts the % of individuals vaccinated in each age group in England as on December 18. A higher share of persons among the 60+ is vaccinated while many younger populations are still vulnerable. Less than 70% are vaccinated with the second dose among those aged below 40.

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