The UK has recorded its highest daily Covid-19 case increase since the pandemic began with more than 78,000 new positive cases a little over a week out from Christmas.
The health department recorded 78,610 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday with 165 deaths. More than 400,000 people in the UK have tested positive in the last week.
More than 4000 of Wednesday’s cases are the Omicron variant.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty told reporters “records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks”.
“If you look at the overall rates it looks as if Delta, which we’ve had with us for a while, is still flat and the growth is Omicron,” he said.
“So, what we’ve got is two epidemics on top of one another.”
Deaths remain steady due to the UK’s vaccination rate with more than 81 per cent of residents fully vaccinated, however previous rises in fatalities have lagged behind a case rise by several weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has implored people to get booster shots. The PM said that "the UK as a whole now has twice as many boosters per head as the EU and more than twice as many as the United States."
Mr Johnson implored the UK Parliament to vote for vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded venues but almost 100 voted against the measures to stop the spread of Omicron.
The rebellion didn’t defeat the measure, which was approved with opposition support and took effect Wednesday. But it could have big implications for Johnson’s political future and for Britain’s pandemic response.
“It was a very clear message that colleagues are not happy with how the government is operating at the moment,” Mark Harper, one of the rebels, told Times Radio.
“The team captain should be able to depend on the loyalty of the team, but it’s a two-way street.”
US shows confidence in boosters
In the US, top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci told reporters at a White House briefing on Wednesday the Omicron variant “undoubtedly compromises” the effects of two Moderna vaccines.
“The early in vitro and clinical studies that I mentioned indicate that boosters reconstitute the antibody titers and the enhance vaccine protection against Omicron,” he said.
“And so finally, our boosted vaccine regimens work against Omicron. At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster."
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said authorities expect Omicron cases to grow in the coming weeks.
“Early data suggests that Omicron is more transmissible than Delta, with a doubling time of about two days," she said.
There are confirmed cases of the variant in at least 36 states and health officials expect to see the proportion of cases in the United States to continue growing over the coming weeks.
Dr Walensky said officials are starting to see Covid-19 cases increase in fully vaccinated nursing home residents and that residents who have received vaccine booster doses have an infection rate that is 10 times lower.
with Reuters and The Associated Press
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