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Twin peaks: The Omicron SARS-CoV-2 BA.1 and BA.2 epidemics in England

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  • Paul Elliott
  • Oliver Eales
  • Nicholas Steyn
  • David Tang
  • Barbara Bodinier
  • Haowei Wang
  • Joshua Elliott
  • Matthew Whitaker
  • Christina Atchison
  • Peter J. Diggle
  • Andrew J. Page
  • Alexander J. Trotter
  • Deborah Ashby
  • Wendy Barclay
  • Graham Taylor
  • Helen Ward
  • Ara Darzi
  • Graham S. Cooke
  • Christl A. Donnelly
  • Marc Chadeau-Hyam
Article numberabq4411
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/06/2022
Issue number6600
Number of pages9
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date24/05/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Rapid transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant has led to record-breaking incidence rates around the world. The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has tracked SARS-CoV-2 infection in England using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results from self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly selected participants aged 5+ years, approximately monthly from May 2020 to March 2022. Weighted prevalence in March 2022 was the highest recorded in REACT-1 at 6.37% (N=109,181) with Omicron BA.2 largely replacing BA.1. Prevalence was increasing overall with the greatest increase in those aged 65-74 and 75+ years. This was associated with increased hospitalizations and deaths but at much lower levels than in previous waves against a backdrop of high levels of vaccination.