Sales of Covid tests increased by a third in July, says Boots

The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron now accounts for almost all cases of Covid-19 in England, analysis suggests.

Sales of Covid tests have increased by a third this month, while official estimates of the number of people with the virus have also risen.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said its surveillance showed a slight increase in cases and hospital admissions, including those in intensive care, as of July 20.

Its records show 3.7 per cent of 4,403 respiratory specimens were identified as Covid-19 compared with 3.6 per cent of 4,535 two weeks prior.

Boots also said its sales of tests had increased by 33 per cent between July 16 and 22 compared with the previous three weeks.

The Zoe Health Study, which takes its data from people self-reporting, estimates there were 606,602 people with symptomatic Covid on July 4 and that this has since risen to 789,695 on July 28.

This is still well below the 1,678,854 peak of December 30 and the 2,993,830 peak on July 18 last year.

Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at the UKHSA, said: “Covid-19 cases and hospital admission rates remain at low levels, though have risen very slightly in the past two weeks. We will continue to monitor these rates closely.

“The NHS will be in contact in autumn 2023 when the seasonal vaccine is available for those who are eligible due to health conditions or age.

“Remember that the virus can cause serious illness, especially for those who are older or immunosuppressed, so we urge everyone who is offered to take up the vaccine when offered.”

Nearly five million people use Zoe’s app to report Covid symptoms and test results, the company says, and of these, it estimates there are 59,357 daily new cases with the greatest proportion in Wales and Cornwall.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told the Times newspaper that the most recent rise may be a result of waning immunity and the cooler, wetter weather pushing more people