Early flu wave warning could coincide with Covid peak and monkeypox outbreak in triple threat

Britain faces a triple threat of infection in the coming months after experts warned they are planning an early flu season as Covid and monkey pox cases rise.

dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, said the flu season – which usually starts at the end of November – could start as early as September.

It comes as cases of Covid and monkey pox continue to rise. Covid levels are approaching record levels and appear to be rising during the UK festival season.

According to the latest incidence figures from Zoe Covid Study, an average of 285,507 people are infected with the virus every day – a 27 percent increase from last week.

On Sunday, June 26, there were 1,076 cases of monkeypox in the UK, up 166 on the previous Friday, with health experts saying the outbreak is likely to spread further in the coming weeks.

Covid cases in the UK are rising again

(PA wire)

There are fears that the early flu season – coupled with rising levels of Covid – could put further strain on the NHS.

Britain has not had a flu season since the pandemic and immunity levels are low as a result, experts say.

“We are planning a flu wave,” Ms Hopkins told a webinar hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine.

“While we normally don’t really see the flu kicking in until late November to December, it could happen as early as late September-October — that’s what we’re planning.”

Ms Hopkins said she and her colleagues are monitoring Australia “very, very carefully”.

The flu season started early there and increased rapidly among all age groups, she said.

“We will see at least one Covid wave in the fall-winter once we get through the current wave,” added Ms Hopkins. “And for the next six months we will have ongoing community transmission of monkeypox.”

Scientists believe the increase in Covid cases is caused by BA.5 – an Omicron subvariant.

Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist behind the Zoe study, said the daily number of cases could soon exceed 300,000, “bringing us to the levels we are seeing during the peak of the pandemic for the UK”.

At the end of March 2022, a record 350,000 daily infections were reported.

“This variant is particularly good at immune escape, causing an increase in reinfections in humans despite vaccines and natural immunity, especially in recent weeks,” said Prof. Spector.

“With the large number of festivals taking place, I predict that rates will continue to rise over the next week or so.”

The Office for National Statistics has announced that its gold standard Covid infection survey will be phased out after more than two years.

Some scientists have questioned the decision-making behind the move as the number of cases mounts.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said it was a “mistake” that could mean experts are left “blind” to how much Covid is circulating in the population entering flu season.

dr. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA, said: “The leading Covid-19 infection survey will work with surveillance programs in care homes and the NHS to continue monitoring the coronavirus and its effects.”

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