The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 104.
Omicron has been found in eight regions of England – the East and West Midlands, East of England, London, the North East, the North West, the South East and the South -Where is.
Another 16 cases were identified in Scotland, bringing the total to 29.
There is one confirmed case in Wales and none in Northern Ireland.
The UKHSA said it was “performing targeted testing in places where positive cases were likely to be infectious.”
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Earlier, it emerged that more than half of those confirmed to be infected with Omicron in the UK had received a double hit – based on figures released ahead of tonight’s update.
A UKHSA technical briefing said 12 of 22 cases known through November 30 had been fully vaccinated.
Two other infected people had received their first dose at least four weeks earlier.
Six were not vaccinated, no data being available on two of the cases.
However, the data does not tell us how well the vaccine protects against Omicron.
The majority of Delta cases are also fully vaccinated, as more than 80% of the population over the age of 12 has now had two vaccines.
The UKHSA has also published a risk assessment of the Omicron variant.
It places the highest “red” alert against the virus for its theoretical ability, based on its mutations, to evade both the vaccine and naturally acquired immunity. He also warns that it could reduce the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments.
It is important to note, however, that the UKHSA’s confidence level for the following points is “low”.
- Amber status – Transmissibility between humans. “At least as transmissible as the variants currently in circulation. Omicron is spread quickly and successfully. Increased transmissibility compared to Delta is biologically plausible. “
- Red status – Naturally acquired immunity. “Mutations suggesting reduced protection against natural immunity.” Based on experience with other variants, laboratory data on individual mutations, and structural modeling, the mutations present are very likely to reduce antibody binding. “
- Red Status – Vaccine Derived Immunity. “Mutations suggesting reduced protection against vaccine-derived immunity.” Mutations present are likely to reduce antibody binding. “
- Red Status – Therapeutic. “Mutations suggesting reduced efficacy of treatment in clinical use in the UK. The mutations present are likely to reduce the binding of most available therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, based on structural modeling. “
The UKHSA added that PCR tests are able to distinguish Omicron from other variants, giving a “strong early signal” of infections in the UK.
The so-called S gene drop, which indicates Omicron and other variants, has increased 141% over the past week. Over the previous 90 days, it has fluctuated up and down, suggesting the further rise is linked to faster growth.
The document notes: “However, the number cannot be interpreted as a change in transmissibility or an increase in the absolute number. “
Wastewater monitoring has found “very little evidence” of Omicron until November 21, but more recent data is being analyzed.
In another update Friday, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said Omicron may be more transmissible by air.
The minutes of its last meeting indicate that Omicron “may show more airborne transmission.”
There are strong caveats, however. The “preliminary indications” are made with “low confidence,” the summary adds.
Regarding potentially increased restrictions, SAGE said that the earlier they are introduced, the more stringent they are and the wider their geographic coverage, “the more effective they will be.”
ANALYSIS BY THOMAS MOORE, SCIENTIFIC CORRESPONDENT
From sewage systems to testing labs, every effort is now being made to detect any signs that Omicron is already spreading in the UK.
So far, the confirmed figures are low, mostly among travelers.
But faced with a variant that exhibits the characteristics of a virus capable of evading vaccines and spreading faster than anything we’ve seen before, they’re taking no chances.
For example, the UK Health Security Agency is taking samples of sewage to test for the genetic material of the virus, which would indicate a case or an outbreak nearby. No sign of a problem yet.
And in the labs, they’re looking for an Omicron genetic signature in standard PCR tests. Due to its mutations, one of the three targets of the tests turns white, which distinguishes it from Delta.
Dropout of the S gene has been very low in recent months – this is a hallmark of some other rare variants. But Delta was dominant.
So, the 141% increase in cases of S gene dropouts over the past week is certainly a concern. It may not be Omicron and the numbers are still very low. But it can be the first sign of a problem.
Scientists still cannot assess Omicron’s threat with great confidence.
On paper, it doesn’t look good. But there is still no hard evidence of how all of these mutations translate into a real world where 80% of the population has had at least two jabs.
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In other developments, a person’s previous COVID infections will be determine their body’s immune response to future variants, according to new research.
And the acceleration of booster jabs in England will happen by December 13 at the latestNHS bosses said.
From that date, or earlier, the online reservation system will be updated to allow people to reserve their booster dose three months after their second dose.