Covid face masks ‘did not stop spread of Omicron’

The study also found that factors such as living in a larger household of four or more people, belonging to an ethnic minority group, and working in health and social care, were all linked to a higher risk earlier in the pandemic but this was negligible after Omicron.

By the end of February 2022 the reduced chance of infection seen from being retired, or living with someone over 70, had disappeared, while the risk for adults living with children also diminished.

The scientists also said travelling abroad was not associated with an increased risk prior to February 2022 but then became a significant risk.

Dr Julii Brainard, co-author of the same school, said: “This isn’t totally surprising because laboratory evidence suggests that the Omicron variant was better able to infect the cells lining the upper respiratory tract than previous variants and so be more transmissible.

“Management of infection risk needs to be agile, adapting to epidemic development and better-quality information when it emerges,” she said.

“To prevent infections we need to have a good view of which factors might be most or least relevant. If those factors can change, we need to be alert to that happening.”

The researchers analysed data from the Office for National Statistics Covid survey which ran from November 2021 to May 2022 and estimated infection rates and asked people questions to see if what factors may be linked to testing positive.

Several sub-types of the Omicron variant continue to be the most dominant in the UK, according to health authorities.

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health and published in PLOS ONE.


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