Covid-19 news archive: May 2022

Commuters at St Pancras International train station in London, England, in May

When the omicron variant was dominant in the UK, the risk of reinfection was about eight times higher than when the delta variant prevailed

In the UK, the risk of being reinfected with covid-19 was considerably more likely when the omicron variant was dominant, from 20 December 2021 to 13 May 2022, compared with when the delta variant was surging, defined as 17 May to 19 December 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The finding is part of the ONS’ Coronavirus Infection Survey, which measures how many people are testing positive for covid-19 and the prevalence of antibodies against the virus across the UK.

Early analyses of the omicron variant in South Africa suggested a higher reinfection risk. A separate study from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research looked at reinfection in healthcare workers, similarly finding the risk was higher with omicron.

A previous ONS survey, released on 11 May, found the risk of reinfection was 10 times higher when omicron was dominant in the UK, this time defined as 20 December 2021 to 25 April 2022, than when delta was dominant.

Other coronavirus news

Being hospitalised with covid-19 can impair function of the right side of the heart, according to a study of 121 critically-ill people who required ventilators in Scotland. Almost 1 in 3 of these participants showed abnormalities to the right side of their heart, which can affect blood supply to the lungs. The study was conducted from September 2020 to March 2021, before vaccines had been widely received across the UK.

Exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of severe disease from covid-19, according to a study of 150,000 people in Ontario, Canada and a separate study of 74,000 people in southern California. Both studies looked at individual medical records to examine links between covid-19 outcomes and exposure to fine particles, called PM2.5, and nitrogen dioxide. The Canadian study also analysed ozone exposure.

In California, the participants who were exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 were 20 to 30 per cent more likely to require hospital care, ventilation or intensive care with covid-19, while exposure to nitrogen dioxide increased the risk by 12 to 18 percent.

The researchers in Canada found that people exposed to pollution, even at relatively low levels, also had an elevated risk of intensive care, especially when it came to ozone exposure.


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