Rapid increase in Omicron infections in England during December 2021: REACT-1 study


HPRU-EZI Authors - Christl Donnelly


The unprecedented rise in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections during December 2021 was concurrent with rapid spread of the Omicron variant in England and globally. We analyzed the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and its dynamics in England from the end of November to mid-December 2021 among almost 100,000 participants in the REACT-1 study. Prevalence was high with rapid growth nationally and particularly in London during December 2021, with an increasing proportion of infections due to Omicron. We observed large decreases in swab positivity among mostly vaccinated older children (12 to 17 years) relative to unvaccinated younger children (5 to 11 years), and in adults who received a third (booster) vaccine dose versus two doses. Our results reinforce the importance of vaccination and booster campaigns, although additional measures have been needed to control the rapid growth of the Omicron variant.