According to major symptoms tracking studies, nearly 145,000 British citizens fell ill last week with Covid. Omicron overtook Delta and became the dominant strain in Britain.

King’s College London scientists found that cases rose by 66% in December, with an estimate of 144,584 new symptomatic infection per day.  

This was the highest ever ZOE-symptom-tracking study number. The previous record for the highest infection rate occurred in October 23, when ZOE estimated that 92,953 infections could have been recorded on any day.

Prof. Tim Spector is the epidemiologist responsible for the study. He said the high level of Omicron infection was “worrying” but that his study was compatible with the wealth evidence that Omicron has a milder form.

According to him, Omicron is probably the reason half of those who caught a cold this week were sick. 

Professor Spector said that the number of new symptomatic patients has exploded in the last week. This is the greatest jump since I started the ZOE Covid Study. 

Although the statistics paint an alarming picture, we believe that Omicron has a milder disease than Delta. Our preliminary data is based upon approximately 2,500 possible cases that were reported via the ZOE app. 

“However, the highly transmissible variant of this virus will spread to many people before the end of the year. For those who want to slow down the spread of this disease, I recommend that you continue reading. [to]Do not gather indoors. If you do meet up, make sure everyone is healthy.

Based on more than 27,000 blood samples, the Office for National Statistics has released promising data that suggests that more than 95% of adult Americans have antibodies to England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. 

People over 65 were most likely to have tested positive for the virus fighting protein, which was ‘likely due to the vaccination booster program’.

An antibody is an immune response to a virus or vaccination. It can be a sign of some degree of immunity, in particular against severe illness.

It comes after three major studies in England, Scotland and South Africa confirmed the Omicron variant is milder, with previous infection slashing the risk of severe illness by 69 per cent.

Research from King's College London scientists estimates there were a record 144,284 new cases per day in the week up to December 20, up 66 per cent on the previous week

Researchers at King’s College London have found that there was an unprecedented 144,284 cases per day during the week ending December 20th. This is 66% more than the previous week.

Cases have increased most in adults aged between 18 and 35 (orange line), who are now seeing just under 62,000 infections per day. They have now overtaken the 0-17 year olds (blue line), who had had the highest rates since July and are seeing just over 32,000 cases daily

The cases have increased the most among adults between 18-35 (orange line), with an average of 62,000 new infections each day. They now surpass the rates seen in the 0-17 years olds (blue lines), who have had the highest rate since July. In fact, they are currently seeing 32,000 more cases each day than the blue line.

Infections were most prominent in London (orange line), where one in 26 people were thought to have the virus. It was followed by the South East (one in 41), East of England (one in 42) and East Midlands (one in 51)

The most common infection was in London (orange lines), where 1 in 26 were suspected to have it. This was followed by one in 41 in the South East, one in 42 in East England and one in 51 in East Midlands.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests more than 95 per cent of adults now have antibodies in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which collects data, suggests that more than 95% percent of adults have antibodies in England.

Antibody levels were highest in people aged 65 and over, with 98.4 per cent of people in their 80s testing positive for the virus-fighting proteins

People over 65 were most likely to have high levels of antibodies, while 98% of those in their 80s tested positive for virus-fighting proteins.

Omicron Covid IS more mild, according to three large studies. 

Three major researches in England, Scotland, and South Africa confirmed that Omicron is less severe than Delta, and much less likely to cause serious illness. 

Based on the 300,000 population in England, Neil Ferguson’s paper titled “Professor Lockdown” found that the mutant strain is up to 45% less likely to cause hospitalization than Delta.

The No10 adviser — who just last week warned there could be 5,000 daily Omicron deaths in the UK — said the fourth wave will be ‘nothing like what was seen last year’ on the back of the new findings.

A similar study in Scotland found the risk of being hospitalised was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta — but it was based on 15 hospitalised cases.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh said Omicron is as serious as Delta. They would have treated around 47 patients in a hospital in Scotland for Omicron, but so far only 15.

Following a comprehensive analysis of South Africa’s 160,000 infected persons, the UK study found that the risk of hospitalization with the new variant was 80 percent lower than it predecessor.

Omicron is now more mild than its predecessors. This confirms the claims South African physicians have been making for several weeks.

Researchers aren’t sure if Omicron has an intrinsically milder strain than other strains, but they think that Omicron may have built up natural or vaccine immunity to do the bulk of the work.

Professor Ferguson — dubbed Professor Lockdown for gloomy modelling that spooked ministers into restrictions — said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ on the back of all three studies.

He warned, however that there could be some pressure on hospitals this winter due to the fact that any decrease in severity may not be compensated if infection rates rise to an alarming level.

The ZOE study estimates the UK R rate — the amount of people an infected person passes on the virus to — to be around 1.2. This means that for every 10 people infected by Covid, there will be 12 others.

London had the highest incidence of infection, at one in 26. The South East was next (one out 41), East of England (1 in 42) and East Midlands (1 in 51).

Comparatively, the North East had one-in-71 cases of infection on any given day. 

The highest number of cases has been seen in those aged between 18-35, with an average rate of just below 62,000 per day.

These patients now see just above 32,000 cases per day, compared to the 0-17-year-olds who were experiencing the highest rate of incidence since July. 

The cases in 55-74 saw an increase in cases, however the numbers in over 75s remain low ahead of Christmas intergenerational mixing. 

The data — based on reports from around 840,000 weekly app users — estimated around half of all people experiencing new cold-like symptoms are likely to have symptomatic Covid.

Professor Spector claimed that Omicron had changed the symptoms in Covid. They are now milder and more like cold symptoms.

He stated that self-isolation rules had been causing chaos for frontline workers over the last few days. Therefore, he was pleased to hear that the government has reduced the time of isolation to just seven days. 

“But, I am still shocked by the misleading information in the latest Stay at Home guidance concerning the symptoms and treatment of Covid. 

According to ‘ZOE data, the three most significant symptoms that aren’t present anymore include a constant cough or a loss of taste or smell. 

Omicron positive cases will most likely feel more like the common flu, with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat and headaches. 

You only have to ask your friend to confirm this information. 

“We must urgently change our public messaging to save lives, as 50% of cold-like symptoms are now caused by Covid.” 

In parallel, data from separate sources showed that 95 percent of adults had positive blood tests for Covid antibodies during the week ending December 5.

The highest levels of antibody were found in those over 65, and 96.4 percent in the 80s.

These were followed by people aged 70-74 (98.1%), 75-79 (997.8%), and 65-69 (96.7%). There was no lower than 93% in any age group, and 95.6% of those 16-24 tested positive. 

Sarah Crofts is the head of analysis outputs at the Covid-19 Infection Survey. She stated that: “Our most recent data shows antibody levels are still high in the UK. 

The number of Omicron cases reported in the UK is increasing slower than scientists predicted. However some experts fear that the country has hit the limit of its testing capacity and that this is throttling the data

Scientists predicted that Omicron cases in the UK would increase at a slower rate than they are now. Some experts believe that Omicron cases are increasing faster than expected, and the nation has reached the limits of its testing capabilities. This could mean that data is being throttled.

Research at Imperial College London has shown that Omicron can cause hospitalisation up to 10% less in people who have never had Covid vaccinated. Hospitalisation is up to 20 per cent less likely in the general population — including those who have been infected or vaccinated — and 45 per cent less likely for at least a night

University of Edinburgh researchers found the risk of being hospitalised with Omicron was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta. Graph shows: The rate of hospitalisation in different age groups for Delta (green) and Omicron (red) cases in Scotland

University of Edinburgh researchers have found that Omicron has a lower rate of Omicron-related hospitalizations than Delta. Graph: Omicron and Delta hospitalization rates in Scotland.

A South African study, which has not been peer-reviewed and was published on pre-print website medRxiv , found that among the 10,547 Omicron cases identified between October 1 and November 30, 261 (2.5 per cent) were admitted to hospital. For comparison, among the 948 non-Omicron cases in the same period - almost all of which would have been Delta, which was behind 95 per cent of cases before Omicron emerged - 121 people were hospitalised (12.8 per cent). The researchers said shows that those who caught Omicron had a 80 per cent lower risk of requiring hospital care

South African researchers published a study that was not peer-reviewed but which found 261 (2.5%) of the Omicron patients who were identified between October 1, and November 30, 2012. Comparatively, 121 Omicron-infected people (12.8%) were admitted to hospital in 948 non Omicron cases. Researchers found that Omicron patients had a lower likelihood of needing to be admitted.

Unvaccinated South African Omicrons are responsible for 87% of Omicron-related deaths

Eleanor Hayward, Daily Mail Health Correspondent 

Nine in ten Omicron deaths are in unvaccinated patients, data from South Africa shows.

Only 40 of the 309 cases in the United States were among those who received at least two doses. That means 87% of those killed were patients who received just one or two doses.

According to Omicron’s health officials, the Omicron-related death rate is lower than any other pandemic. Hospitalisation rates in the country are also at a low 80 percent.

Omicron has claimed the lives of just 5% of Omicron patients, which is a decrease from 24% during previous outbreaks.

Figures like these highlight how vaccines are crucial in the prevention of severe diseases. Scientists from Universities such as the University of the Witwatersrand carried out the research. The results were published by the National Institute for Communicable Disorders.

Researchers compared the hospitalisation rates of Omicron waves with other variants by looking at data from 160,000 Covid-positive patients.

Researchers found that Omicron-positive people are about 80 percent less likely than others to need hospital admissions.

Cheryl Cohen, the lead author of this article said that Omicron behaves in a less severe way.

“Our data suggest that Omicron is less severe than other variants.

It was not clear if immunity to previous infections and/or vaccinations is keeping hospitalisations down, according to the study.

“We have seen an increase in antibodies in the older generations, likely due to vaccination booster programmes. 

“The percentage of adults who have reported that they received three doses has increased since September 2021.

“Although we are not yet able to confirm the effectiveness of our vaccines against Omicron variant, we will keep an eye on its effects.”

High levels of antibodies among the British population are encouraging signs that Omicron is in good health. Sajid Javid, who today praised ‘encouraging evidence’ that Omicron strains are milder than Delta and hoped to avoid a New Year lockdown, said there was more hope.

After Downing Street had confirmed that no further announcements will be made on tightening regulations until next week, the Health Secretary stated the new findings regarding severity were encouraging.

Javid said that although the virus is rapidly spreading, it will pose a grave threat. He also stressed the need for large-scale hospitalisations due to the high number of affected patients.  

Boris Johnson will be leaving Britons alone for a while, exhorting them to ‘take extra care to safeguard yourselves and your family’ at festive events.

Ministers will have to decide if more evidence is available on this variant.

MPs and the hospitality industry are calling for early clarity on the New Year period — which could be make or break for many bars and restaurants after a wave of cancellations over recent weeks.

It is fast-growing, so scientists warn that the NHS still faces serious threats. 

Andrew Hayward is a SAGE member who warned today that the situation for older people is not clear and that pressure on the NHS is only going to increase.

Professor Neil Ferguson — who just last week warned there could be up to 5,000 daily Omicron deaths in the UK — said the country’s fourth wave will be ‘nothing like what we seen last year, with ICUs overflowing with patients’ on the back of the new findings.

The Imperial College London team found that Omicron-eligible Britons are 15 to 20% less likely than Delta-eligible Britons.