Living with covid in the United Kingdom and the threat of emergence two new variants of concern.
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister – Boris Johnson in his public address on 21 February 2022 has outlines his government’s plan for living with COVID-19. This plan – underpinned by vaccines – will remove the remaining legal domestic restrictions while continuing to protect people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and maintaining resilience. The government will also secure innovations and opportunities from the COVID-19 response.
LIVING WITH COVID-19
34. The past 2 years have seen many necessary restrictions imposed on everyday life
to manage COVID-19, but these have come with a huge toll on wellbeing and
economic output. Scientists (including virologists, epidemiologists, clinicians, and
many others) and the Government now understand more about COVID-19, how it
behaves and how it can be treated. As the virus continues to evolve, it will be
important to continue to add to this understanding.
35. Living with and managing the virus will mean maintaining the population’s wall of
protection and communicating safer behaviours that the public can follow to
manage risk. The Government will move away from deploying regulations and
requirements in England and replace specific interventions for COVID-19 with
public health measures and guidance.
36. The Government is able to take this step now because of the success of the
vaccination programme, and the suite of pharmaceutical tools the NHS can deploy
to treat people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the most severely ill (see
The Government can only take these steps because it will retain
contingency capabilities and will respond as necessary to further resurgences or
worse variants of the virus (see chapter 5).
Removing the last domestic restrictions
37. The Government will remove remaining domestic restrictions in England, subject to
appropriate parliamentary scrutiny.
38. From 24 February, the Government will:
a. Remove the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test.
Adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at
home and avoid contact with other people.
After 5 days, they may choose to
take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) followed by another the next day – if both
are negative, and they do not have a temperature, they can safely return to
their normal routine. Those who test positive should avoid contact with
anyone in an at risk group, including if they live in the same household.
There will be specific guidance for staff in particularly vulnerable services,
such as adult social care, healthcare, and prisons and places of detention.
b. No longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under the age
of 18 to test daily for 7 days, and remove the legal requirement for
close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate. Guidance will
COVID-19 RESPONSE: LIVING WITH COVID-19 17
set out the precautions that those who live in the same household as
someone who has COVID-19, or who have stayed overnight in the same
household, are advised to take to reduce risk to other people. Other contacts
of people with COVID-19 will be advised to take extra care in following
general guidance for the public on safer behaviours.
c. End self-isolation support payments and national funding for practical
support. The medicine delivery service will no longer be available.
People who were instructed to self-isolate before this date will still be able to
claim support payments within the next 42 days.
d. Revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England)
(No. 3) Regulations. Local authorities will continue to manage local
outbreaks of COVID-19 in high risk settings as they do with other infectious
39. From 24 March, the COVID-19 provisions within Statutory Sick Pay and
Employment and Support Allowance regulations will end. People with COVID-19
may still be eligible, subject to the normal conditions of entitlement.
40. From 1 April, the Government will update guidance setting out the ongoing
steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other
people. This will align with the changes to testing set out later in this chapter.
Living with Covid-19: What is the guidance across the United Kingdom now? According to BBC publication, the new guidance across the United Kingdom can be seen here
What to do if you or somebody you live with have coronavirus (covid-19) or symptoms of COVID-19? The NHS has produced guidelines on what to do if you have coronavirus or symptoms of Covid-19
Covid-19: Emerging Two New Variants of Concern In The United Kingdom
Data suggests the new variants are likely to have a ‘growth advantage’ over Omicron BA.2, currently the dominant variant
Two offshoots of the Covid Omicron strain have been newly classified as variants of concern in the UK.
A small number of cases of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 have been identified so far.
Analysis of the available data suggests they are likely to have a “growth advantage” over Omicron BA.2, currently the dominant variant, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
So far 115 cases of probable or confirmed BA.4 have been identified, with 67 in England, 41 in Scotland, six in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
Some 80 cases of BA.5 have been identified, with 48 in England, 25 in Scotland, six in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.
Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “The reclassification of these variants as variants of concern reflects emerging evidence on the growth of BA.4 and BA.5 internationally and in the UK.
BA.4 and BA.5 have mutations in the spike protein, which it is believed give them an advantage over other Omicron sub-variants such as BA.2.
It is though these mutations could mean the virus might be able to partly dodge immunity.
For these variants, clear evidence is available indicating a significant impact on transmissibility, severity and/or immunity that is likely to have an impact on the epidemiological situation in the EU/EEA. The combined genomic, epidemiological, and in-vitro evidence for these properties invokes at least moderate confidence. In addition, all the criteria for variants of interest and under monitoring outlined below apply.
|Lineage + additional mutations
|Country first detected (community)
|Spike mutations of interest
|Year and month first detected
|Impact on transmissibility
|Impact on immunity
|Impact on severity
|Transmission in EU/EEA
|L452R, T478K, D614G, P681R
|Increased (v) (1)
|Increased (v) (2-4)
|Increased (v) (3, 5)
|South Africa and Botswana
|Increased (v) (6, 7)
|Increased (v) (8-10)
|Reduced (v) (11-13)
|Increased (v) (6, 14)
|Increased (v) (8)
|Reduced (v) (15, 16)
|L452R, F486V, R493Q
|Increased (17, 18)
|L452R, F486V, R493Q
|Increased (17, 18)