Coronavirus: What are the chances of an outbreak this summer? An expert has their say

Coronavirus: 'Prepare for another surge in winter' says Nabarro

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Professor Kinnane said: “BA.4 and BA.5 were first identified in South Africa in early 2022 and have since become the dominant strain in the country.

“While the two new strains replicate several mutations of the original Omicron variant, they seem to be more common with the BA.2 type Recently, Portugal and Germany are also seeing a rise in infections, and it is likely they are being driven by these new strains.”

While BA.2 remains the dominant variant in the UK, the concern is BA.4 and BA.5 could soon surpass BA.2.

Professor Kinane said of recent data: “Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants seem to be transmitting quickly and it is very likely that these two strains will become dominant across the UK over the summer.

“A new Covid wave is looking increasingly likely for the UK. While the BA.4 and BA.5 strains have been shown to overcome immunity developed for other strains of the virus, it does not necessarily mean that this would lead to more deaths.”

Furthermore, while the rise of BA.4 and BA.5 are of concern, this does not mean they as big a threat as they might have been in large part due to vaccinations and overall immunity.

However, Kinane added protection was “is not guaranteed since immunity naturally wanes and new variants could upset things”.

What this all leads to is the question over whether the UK could or should expect the question of restrictions to return to annals of Parliament.

On this topic, few are sure.

Professor Kinane says on the subject of heightened protective measures: “The supercharged rollout of the booster vaccination programme and a further jab in autumn should prevent severe infections seen earlier in the pandemic.

“The population is also in a better place immunologically to counter COVID-19 infections and it is crucial that whenever another dose of the Covid vaccine is offered, uptake should be swift and across the board.”

In short, there is no definitive answer as the UK does not currently have all the information it needs in order to make an informed decision on the matter.

Kinane added: “The ending of universal free testing along with a drawdown in border control measures has meant that there has been a sudden drop in virus surveillance capabilities, which opens the UK up to additional risk.”

It is this opening up which has seen the arrival of a new viral threat to the UK in the form of monkeypox.

A rare viral infection, monkeypox has arrived in the United Kingdom for the first time since 2018.

However, unlike 2018, there is greater concern about the spread of monkeypox through the population.

Health officials are worried festivals this summer could act as super-spreader events for the virus.

Said virus is set for a rename after concerns were raised by scientists.

A new name has yet to be announced.

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