While COVID-19 rates continue to be low, the virus is still in circulation. Those who are older or immunosuppressed are still at higher risk of being admitted to hospital.
The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) today released the latest fortnightly flu and COVID-19 report summarizing the latest information from the surveillance systems used to monitor coronavirus (COVID-19), influenza, and other seasonal respiratory viruses in England.
COVID-19 Surveillance Week 26 (26 June-2 July 2023)
COVID-19 case rates have decreased this week compared to the prior week. 3.6% of 4,535 respiratory specimens reported through the Respiratory DataMart System were identified as COVID-19.
Hospital admissions and ICU admission rates have continued to decrease. The overall COVID-19 hospital admission rate for week 26 was 0.8 per 100,000 population, a decrease from 2.03 per 100,000 in the prior report.
“COVID-19 rates remain low, but those who are older or immunosuppressed are still at risk of being admitted to hospital, noted Dr. Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA. “Those who have developed a new health condition or started treatment that severely weakens your immune system, as well as children aged 6 months to 4 years who are at increased risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 may still be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine,” noted Dr. Ramsay. “We’d recommend speaking with your specialist for more information.”
People aged 85 years and over continue to have the highest hospital admission rates, though these have continued to decline this week to 8.61 per 100,000 from 22.4 per 100,000 in the previous report. Admission rates among those aged 75 to 84 years have declined to 4.74 per 100,000 from 10.06 in the previous report.
ICU or HDU Admissions
The overall weekly ICU or High-Dependency Unit (HDU) admission rate for COVID-19 remained very low, decreasing slightly to 0.04 per 100,000, compared to 0.06 per 100,000 in the previous week. The last time the rate was similarly low was in week 33 2020. Note that ICU or HDU admission rates may represent a lag from admission to hospital to an ICU or HDU ward. There was one new ECMO admission reported in week 26 from the 7 Severe Respiratory Failure (SRF) centres in the UK. The admission was not due to an acute respiratory infection.
Microbiological Surveillance SARS-CoV-2 Variants
To account for sequencing delays, UKHSA reports the proportion of variants from sequenced episodes between 12 June 2023 and 18 June 2023. Of those sequenced in this period, 25.8% were classified as XBB.1.16 (V-23APR-01), 14.0% as XBB.1.5 (V-23JAN-01), 57.5% as XBB (V-22OCT-02), 1.6% as CH.1.1 (V-22DEC-01), 0.5% as BQ.1 (V-22OCT-01), and 0.5% as BA.5 (V-22APR-04).
COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in England
71.1% (3,856,204 out of 5,423,074) of all people aged over 75 years old who are living and resident in England had been vaccinated with a Spring 2023 booster dose since 3 April 2023. 41.2% (915,421 out of 2,223,120) of all people aged 5 years and over who are immunosuppressed and living and resident in England had been vaccinated with a Spring 2023 booster dose.