Early flu wave could join Covid surge and monkeypox outbreak in triple threat

Britain faces a triple threat of infections in the coming months after experts warned they are predicting an early flu season as Covid and monkeypox cases rise.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency, said flu season – which usually starts in late November – could start as early as September.

It comes as Covid and monkeypox cases continue to soar. Covid levels are approaching record highs and are expected to spike amid the UK festival season.

According to the latest incidence figures from the Zoe Covid Study, an average of 285,507 people are infected with the virus every day, a 27% increase from last week.

As of Sunday June 26, there were 1,076 cases of monkeypox across the UK, up from 166 the previous Friday, with health experts saying the outbreak is expected to spread further over the coming weeks.

UK Covid cases rise again

(PA wire)

There are fears that the start of flu season – coupled with rising levels of Covid – will put further pressure on the NHS.

Britain has not had a flu season since before the pandemic and so immunity levels are low, experts say.

“We are anticipating a flu wave,” Ms Hopkins told a webinar hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine.

“While we don’t normally see the flu kicking in until late November to December, it could happen as early as late September-October – that’s what we expect.”

Ms Hopkins said she and her colleagues were watching Australia “very, very carefully”.

The flu season there started early and increased rapidly in all age groups, she said.

“We will see at least one Covid wave in the fall-winter, once we get through the current wave,” Ms Hopkins added. “And for the next six months at least, we will have continued community transmission of monkeypox.”

Scientists believe the rise in Covid cases is due to BA.5 – a sub-variant of Omicron.

Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist behind the Zoe research, said daily cases could soon top the 300,000 mark, “bringing us to levels seen at the height of the pandemic for the UK. United”.

A record 350,000 daily infections were reported at the end of March 2022.

“This variant is particularly effective for immune evasion, causing an increase in reinfections in people despite vaccines and natural immunity, especially in recent weeks,” Prof Spector said.

“With the large number of festivals taking place, I predict rates will continue to increase over the next week.”

The Office for National Statistics has announced that its benchmark survey of Covid infections is being scaled down after more than two years.

Some scientists have questioned the decision-making behind this decision as cases rise.

Prof Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said it was a ‘mistake’ which could mean experts are being left ‘blind’ to how much Covid is circulating in the population ahead of the coronavirus season. flu.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA, said: “The global survey of Covid-19 infections will work alongside surveillance programs in care homes and the NHS to help continue to monitor coronavirus and its effects.”

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Edward L. Robinett