A woman receives a dose of the Moderna vaccine at Babington Hospital in Belper on December 16, 2021 as the UK steps up the country's booster drive to fight a "tidal wave" of Omicron. Image Credit: AFP

London: Britain reported a record 88,376 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, up from Wednesday’s 78,610.

The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test was slightly lower at 146, compared with 165 on Wednesday.

More than 11 million people have now tested positive for the disease in the United Kingdom, which has a total population of around 67 million.

With a new highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus surging across Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of a “tidal wave” of infections.

England’s chief medical officer, meanwhile, said the UK government may have to consider a tougher response to the wave of COVID-19 sweeping the country if vaccines prove less effective than anticipated against the Omicron variant

In testimony to a parliamentary committee on Thursday, Professor Chris Whitty said scientists won’t fully understand how well vaccines work against omicron until they’ve conducted clinical studies on patients infected with the variant. Data from those studies aren’t expected until the last week of December at the earliest.

Whitty’s comments came in response to questions about whether the government was considering more restrictions on personal and business interactions after the UK reported 78,610 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number since the pandemic began.

The government this week rolled out an accelerated vaccine programme that aims to offer everyone over the age of 18 a booster shot by the end of the year. It has also implemented new rules ordering masks to be worn in most indoor settings in England and requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter nightclubs and large events.