Worrying Covid graph shows Omicron cases in London now rising faster than first wave

Data from the UK Health and Security Agency reported that 40 per cent of cases in London were caused by Omicron earlier this week but now it is closer to one in two

Commuters make their way across London Bridge
Commuters make their way across London Bridge

Omicron is now the dominant Covid-19 variant in London, new analysis suggests.

Some 51.8% of a sample of new coronavirus cases in London with specimen dates for December 11 and 12 were found to have S gene target failure (SGTF) – a way of detecting the likely presence of Omicron.

Most samples of Omicron that have been sequenced in a laboratory have been found to contain a slight but identifiable difference from other Covid-19 variants such as Delta.

This difference – a deletion in the S gene – shows up in certain laboratory PCR tests and can be used as way of estimating the spread of Omicron.

Of the 1,391 Covid-19 cases in London recorded on December 11 and 12 where the S gene status could be determined, 721 were classed as SGTF.

Grim graph shows Omicron is fuelling ‘fastest ever Covid acceleration in London’



The figures, which have been published by the UK Health Security Agency, also show that 26.9% of a sample of detectable cases in eastern England from December 11 and 12 were classed as SGTF, along with 25.4% in south-east England and 20.8% in north-west England.

A graph put together by Oliver Johnson, Professor of Information Theory at the School of Mathematics, University of Bristol, plots the Covid cases reported by London onto a graph.

Publishing it on Twittter, he said “since we know that omicron is growing at a similar rate in most regions, with various places being about a week behind London.

People queue for their booster dose outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination centre in London



“Then it might be prudent to imagine that the next few places on this list might also see a big steepening in cases in the next week.”

Levels were lower in all other regions, with north-east England having the lowest estimate of 6.2%.

The level for the whole of England was estimated at 24.0%.

All figures are based only on samples tested at four of the UK Lighthouse laboratories – Alderley Park, Glasgow, Milton Keynes and Newcastle – which means there are likely to be parts of the country where the prevalence of Omicron is underreported.

People queue to receive coronavirus vaccines in front of the St. Thomas Hospital due to the increase in cases of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in London

Prof Tim Spector, an epidemiologist, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In London, where Covid is increasing rapidly, it’s far more likely to be Covid than it is to be a cold.

“We’re seeing doubling in the numbers equivalent to what’s being seen elsewhere, every two-and-a-half days, and that really means numbers are going up.

“If we look at our regional charts we see London accelerating more than we’ve seen it since the very first wave and this now means that Omicron is the predominant variant already.

“We’ll be at 100 per cent very soon, so that’s happened in just a matter of days – that’s is why so many people are going down with infections.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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