Covid-19 infections in the UK have risen by almost 800,000 in a week, with some parts of the country approaching record levels during the spring.
The number of hospitals also continues to increase, driven by the spread of the latest coronavirus subvariants omicron BA.4 and BA.5.
A total of 3.5 million people in private households are estimated to have had Covid-19 last week, an increase of 29 percent from 2.7 million the week before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is the highest estimate of total infections since mid-April, but is still below the record of 4.9 million seen on top of the omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.
The rapidly increasing case load in the current wave is causing a strain on the NHS, as some people “still do not respond to vaccines properly”, a health expert has warned.
Dr. Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, told the BBC that the NHS is “under stress” as immunity begins to wane from initial vaccine drift and that omicron is also “extremely good” at avoiding immunity from antibodies.
“It’s a complicated picture, and different variants have developed their portability and difficulty,” he told the Today program.
“I think we can see that in the UK the NHS is under stress with ambulance waiting times and the like. This wave of the virus is not helping, it is still causing hospitalizations and deaths.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a perfectly protected population. Many people still do not respond properly to vaccines, our protection is declining, and there does not appear to be a long-term plan for these vaccines.”