‘Devious’ Covid variant is behind ‘worst ever’ bouts of the bug as immunity hits record lows before Christmas
THE Christmas Covid wave could be one of the nastiest since the jabs were introduced, experts have warned.
A bout of the newly evolved bug is doing the rounds in the UK amid rapidly falling immunity levels among the population.
Positive cases of the virus are currently surging, with 5,975 people testing positive in England in the week leading to December 9.
This is an increase of 36 per cent compared to the week before.
People suffering from the viral infection have warned that it feels “as bad” or “worse” than the bug they caught at the start of the pandemic.
Scientists have warned waning immunity and the virus evolving are tipping the scales.
This is despite increased herd immunity thanks to several Covid waves and national vaccine drives.
It’s important to remember that symptoms of the bug have always varied from person to person.
Even before the jabs emerged, some lucky people barely got a sniffle – while others didn’t experience a single symptom.
Sufferers have taken to social media to share how ill the virus has left them this time around.
One woman, nicknamed RedHeadedStepChild, wrote on X: “I’m on day seven, and I still don’t feel back to normal yet; it’s scary bad.
“I only had Covid once before, in 2021, and this [is] just as bad, if not worse.”
Quamahl, another user, added: “This is the third I’ve had Covid, and it’s the worst”.
Ellen Marshall said: “Third time struck down by Covid and somehow the worst yet?”
Another X user, who goes by the name Tern, said: “Shattered. It was absolutely horrendous. It is the third time I thought it was supposed to get milder.”
“I’m also hearing of people having nasty bouts of Covid, who are otherwise young and fit,” Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London, told The BBC.
“It’s a surprisingly devious virus, sometimes making people quite ill and occasionally leading to having ‘long Covid’,” he said.
‘IMMUNITY IS FALLING’
Talking to The Sun, he adds: “Immunity falls over time, and for many, it’s been over a year since they had their last booster jabs.
Last winter, all over-50s could have one. Now, it is only the over-65s unless you are in an at-risk group.
The expert says there is a “high chance” you are susceptible if you have not caught Covid in the past year or had a jab.
The number of Brits getting vaccinated is not the only thing to have changed – the virus is also evolving.
Vaccines and natural immunity only work when there is a strong match between the antibody and the virus circulating.
The more a virus changes, the less effective antibodies are at fighting it.
“The virus circulating now is quite different from the one we saw in 2020,” Prof Peter says.
He adds: “The new virus has become so much better at transmitting from person to person, and it’s likely only going to get better.
“It’s also much better at evading the immunity we currently have from infection and vaccination.”
EVERYONE IS MIXING
How we live during the winter also makes it easier for bugs, like Covid to spread.
“Everyone is getting inside, mixing with others and singing carols, creating conditions which make catching Covid much more likely,” Prof Peter explains.
Alongside Covid, there are a host of other viral infections that could also be making you ill this winter.
Professor Jonathan Ball of the London School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Nottingham told The Sun: “At this time of year, there’s a legion of [bugs] doing the rounds, but rarely do we test for them.
“So if you are unfortunate enough to get flu or a cold on top of Covid, that may be unpleasant.”
It is important to stress that Covid is less virulent and dangerous now than in 2020.
“Infections will be milder now, and the impact is lower if you look at the hospitalisations and death rates,” Dr Phil Gould of Coventry University adds.
The NHS says symptoms can include:
- a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- feeling tired or exhausted
- an aching body
- a headache
- a sore throat
- a blocked or runny nose
- loss of appetite
- feeling sick or being sick
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