More than two-thirds of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are among people who have been reinfected with the virus, a new study said Wednesday.
Imperial College London researchers reported that around 3,582 people — or about 66% of participants in the study — who tested positive in January had already been infected with the virus, CNBC reported.
An additional 7.5% of the infected participants said they believed they had previously had the virus but did not confirm that with a test.
The study looked at more than 100,000 PCR tests that were collected across England between Jan. 5 and Jan. 20.
The study’s authors said in a paper released Wednesday that the Omicron variant has hit England at “unprecedented levels” and has nearly replaced Delta as the country’s most prominent variant, CNBC reported.
The study comes as officials announced that mask-wearing will no longer be mandated and the public will no longer be advised to work from home as of Thursday in England.
Health officials said last month that roughly half of the Omicron cases in the UK were among the fully vaccinated.
Almost 85% of the country’s eligible population is fully vaccinated and 64% have gotten a booster shot, CNBC reported.
In December, UK health officials also estimated that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant was about 5.4 times greater than with Delta.
Omicron is a mutated version of COVID-19 that has been identified in over 170 countries, CNBC reported. World Health Organization officials reported Monday that since the variant was identified nine weeks ago, over 80 million virus cases have been reported to the agency.
The UK reported 94,326 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, CNBC reported. Infection totals peaked in late December when 246,415 positive tests were recorded in one day.