Norovirus Infections Increase 66% in England

Norovirus vaccine candidates are conducting clinical studies
London England
by Dimitris Vetsikas
England (Precision Vaccinations)

The most common infectious cause of vomiting and diarrhea has been surging in England in 2023.

The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data released on February 9, 2023, shows a 66% increase in reports of confirmed norovirus cases, mostly in seniors.

These norovirus outbreaks have increased in hospitals, schools, and care home settings.

While high numbers of cases in this age group are expected at this time of year, these levels haven't been seen in over a decade, wrote the UKHSA.

During the 2022-2023 season to date, the majority (77%) of samples characterized were norovirus Genogroup 2 (GII), of which the most frequently identified strain was genotype GII.4 (39%).

In response to the increase in cases, UKHSA is reminding the public of the actions that they can take to reduce the spread of norovirus since vaccines are not approved in 2023.

When someone with norovirus vomits, the droplets contaminate the surrounding surfaces.

Dr. Lesley Larkin, Surveillance Lead, Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety (One Health) Division at UKHSA, stated in a press release, "Please stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work (particularly if you work with vulnerable people or food) or send sick children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared."

"If you have a loved one in a care home or hospital, please avoid visiting until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared."

"Furthermore, regular hand washing is essential to help stop the spread of this bug."

"But remember, alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus, so soap and warm water are best."

Most people will fully recover within 2 to 3 days, and it is essential to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially for the very young, elderly, or those with weakened immune systems, which are more at risk.

As of February 14, 2023, the UKHSA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the European Medicines Agency have not approved a norovirus vaccine.

However, two vaccines are making progress.

Vaxart, Inc. announced on February 14, 2023, that it had dosed the first subject in a study of its oral tablet bivalent vaccine candidate. Vaxart expects to report topline data from the Phase 2 study in mid-2023.

And HillVax LLC's HIL-214 bivalent vaccine candidate is in development to prevent moderate-to-severe illness caused by norovirus infection.

UKHSA's national norovirus surveillance team monitors national surveillance data from multiple systems in England to ensure early detection of any unusual norovirus activity.