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US health officials monitor the rising cases of UK Covid hospitalisations

US health officials are monitoring an unusual situation in the UK, where COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are simultaneously climbing due to the BA.2 subvariant, CNN reports. 

COVID-19 cases were up 52% in the UK last week compared with the week prior, and hospitalisations were up 18%t over the same period, according to the UK Coronavirus Dashboard. 

The seemingly in-tandem ascent of cases and hospitalisations is unusual, given that increases in COVID-19 cases preceded increases in hospitalisations by about 10 days to two weeks in previous waves. 

"So we're obviously keenly interested in what's going on with that," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN.

Dr Fauci said in conversation with his U.K. counterparts, they attribute the rising cases and hospitalisations to three things, listed in order of contribution: the BA.2 variant, which is more transmissible than the original omicron; the opening of society, with people socializing indoors without masks; and waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection. 

Hospitalisations in the U.K. raise questions, given that BA.2 doesn't appear to cause more severe disease.

"The issue with hospitalization is a little bit more puzzling, because although the hospitalizations are going up, it is very clear their use of ICU beds has not increased," Dr. Fauci said. "So are the numbers of hospitalizations a real reflection of COVID cases, or is there a difficulty deciphering between people coming into the hospital with COVID or because of COVID?"

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Source: Becker Hospital Review, 16 March 2022


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