THE UK DROPPED all pandemic restrictions too fast – and Covid-19 is back. Numbers of cases and hospitalizations are rising in all regions and all age groups.
Figures released on Wednesday saw infections jump by more than 50 per cent and deaths by two thirds in a week. This has been accompanied by a sharp rise in hospital admissions, with 11,639 hospitalized on March 8 and 275 requiring a ventilator.
The number of UK Covid deaths, which previously had been on a downtrend, stopped falling from February 27.
“The one thing we do know is that both cases and admissions are rising, seemingly across all age groups and regions. What we don’t understand is exactly why,” Christina Pagel of University College London told the Independent news website.
Prevalence in the UK of the extra-infectious BA.2 Omicron variant, which is spreading in densely packed Hong Kong, is one likely factor. There have also been detections of “Deltacron”, a virus with elements of the two most recent variations.
But doctors acknowledge that the main issue in the UK is the dropping of all restrictions: the abandonment of the mask-wearing habit, the loss of isolation requirements, the return of close social mixing, and the relaxation of border arrangements.
Scientists are complaining that the loss of testing and the shrinking amount of available data has made it impossible to track the epidemic in the UK.
REST OF THE WORLD
Some 130 scientists and celebrities have signed a letter saying that “the pandemic is not over” in the UK—and the lack of awareness of what’s happening in the rest of the world is a tragedy.
Writers of the joint letter say that the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland continue to block the lifting of intellectual property rules which would enable the redistribution and scale-up of Covid-19 vaccines, test and treatment manufacturing in the poorer parts of the world.
“The transfer of largely publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how from pharmaceutical corporations would fast track production to a matter of months. Yet still today, a handful of these corporations retain the power to dictate vaccine supply, distribution and price – and the power to decide who lives and who dies,” it says. “World leaders, and particularly rich nations, have the responsibility to change this situation and ensure the publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how is available to the global south.”