FFirst there was the Oslo restaurant party that saw 80 of the 111 guests catch Covid, mainly the Omicron variant, despite having been doubly vaccinated and tested negative before d ‘attend. Then came the seven German tourists who all traveled together to South Africa and caught Omicron despite receiving a reminder.
In recent days, anecdotal reports have also suggested a growing number of Omicron outbreaks at social gatherings in the UK. The Victoria Derbyshire broadcaster tweeted that his brother caught Covid three or four weeks after receiving his booster shot after a night out with “a bunch of pals” on December 3. All have been vaccinated and 17 out of 21 have tested positive, she said.
Although official data has yet to confirm the trend, concerns are growing about the impact of increased transmissibility, including among fully vaccinated people, although most are reporting relatively mild symptoms.
“Certainly compared to the Delta variant, we are seeing more of these multiple infection events,” said Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who leads the Zoe Covid symptom application. “Delta didn’t seem to affect everyone during an event – then only one in six people vaccinated could get sick. Now it could be a majority.
Omicron also appears to light up very quickly, “because the transmission time is very short,” Spector said. That’s why he advises anyone attending a social gathering to take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) “a few hours before you leave the house,” rather than relying on a test from the day before or earlier.
Education Secretary Nadim Zahawi said on Sunday there were now cases of Omicron in UK hospitals and warned the new strain was “so contagious that it will dominate and grow exponentially “.