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Rapid transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant has led to record-breaking incidence rates around the world. The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has tracked SARS-CoV-2 infection in England using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results from self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly selected participants aged 5 years and older approximately monthly from May 2020 to March 2022. Weighted prevalence in March 2022 was the highest recorded in REACT-1 at 6.37% (N = 109,181), with the Omicron BA.2 variant largely replacing the BA.1 variant. Prevalence was increasing overall, with the greatest increase in those aged 65 to 74 years and 75 years and older. This was associated with increased hospitalizations and deaths, but at much lower levels than in previous waves against a backdrop of high levels of vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article


Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Date





School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK.


Humans, RNA, Viral, Incidence, Prevalence, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, England, Epidemics, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing