Britain’s daily Covid cases spiked 68 per cent in a week today to 27,989, but hospital rates are running at one tenth of the level they were at the same time during the second wave.
Despite the country recording its highest number of new infections in a single 24-hour period in five months, daily deaths only nudged up five per cent with another 22 victims registered.
Latest Department of Health data shows that 259 people were admitted to hospital with the disease on June 27, which was technically a quarter more than last Thursday but still a far cry from levels seen during previous waves.
For comparison, the last time the country was recording similar levels of infection and the outbreak was growing was at the start of December, when there were more than 2,000 admissions every day.
The disparity between rising infection numbers and flatlining death and hospitalisation figures bolsters Boris Johnson’s comments today that the vaccination drive has ‘broken the link’ between surging cases and deaths.
The growing sense of optimism within No10 will raise hopes that there will be no going back when England finally emerges from lockdown on July 19.
Separate data from the UK’s largest symptom tracking study found that even though an increasing number of people are getting infected with the disease the jabs have turned Covid into a ‘bad cold’.
Professor Tim Spector, the eminent King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the project, said: ‘While rates of Covid infection are high, it’s reassuring to see vaccinations protecting the vulnerable and deaths remain very low.’
More than 44.8million Britons — or 85.2 per cent of adults — have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine after 141,216 jabs were administered yesterday. And more than 33million — or 62.7 per cent — have got both doses after a further 175,749 were administered on Wednesday.
Ministers are on track to hit their target of inoculating two-thirds of the country with both doses by July 19, with data suggesting they only need to dish out another 125,000 second jabs.
Separate data from Public Health England today showed infections among young people are now 15 times higher than in the over-60s, who have all been offered two doses of the vaccine. Among under-30s the rate is 424.3 cases per 100,000 people, but for older adults it is 16.2 per 100,000.
Only one of 149 local authorities in England — former Indian ‘Delta’ variant hotspot Blackburn with Darwen — saw its Covid cases fall in the week ending June 27, the latest available.
Scientists say the Indian variant, releasing lockdown measures, Euro 2020 tournament and a boom in staycations have all led to spiralling cases, with the third wave of infections likely to continue ‘for longer than expected’.
Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to a Nissan factory in Sunderland) said today it was ‘ever clearer’ that the vaccines had ‘broken the link’ between infections and deaths. He added the country was now in the ‘final furlong’ of lockdown
Infection rates are dropping in certain areas (shown in green), including Bedford, Luton and Bolton. But infection rates are rising the most in Darlington, Derby and Rutland
Infection rates are 25 times higher in under-30s than those aged 80 or above. Those aged 20 to 29 had a rate of 424.3 per 100,000, while people aged 80 or older had a rate of 16.2 per 100,000
Two AstraZeneca vaccine doses slash risk of death by 94% in over-65s
Two doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine slash the risk of death from the disease by 94 per cent among the over-65s, real world data revealed today.
Public Health England’s release marks the first time officials have put a figure on the jabs effectiveness against mortality since it was rolled out in January.
Their analysis did not include data from after the Indian ‘Delta’ variant took hold across the country. Analysis on the mutant strain is still ongoing.
But separate PHE research has shown the jab is 92 per cent effective at blocking severe illness from the variant, with protection against death likely to be higher.
Under-65s who had two doses of the Oxford-made jab cut their risk of death by 92 per cent, today’s report added. With just one dose, the risk was slashed by 83 per cent among over-65s, and 79 per cent among under-65s.
For Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, two doses were estimated to cut the risk of death by 98 per cent among all ages. After one dose, it slashed the risk by 77 per cent among over-65s and 73 per cent among under-65s.
Consultant epidemiologist at PHE, Jamie Bernal, said: ‘This data gives us even more confidence that the vaccines offer high levels of protection against Covid across all age groups.
Dr Peter English, a vaccinologist and past chair of the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said the data was ‘very encouraging’.
In other Covid news:
- King’s College London scientists warn Covid cases rose almost a third last week, after estimating 25,210 Britons were catching the virus every day;
- More than 80 per cent of these cases were among people who had not been vaccinated, they added;
- Test and Trace data showed infections in England have risen by 43 per cent last week. There were 79,248 people who tested positive over the seven days to June 23, compared to 55,577 previously;
- Scientists warned England’s Covid numbers could follow Scotland’s amid Euro 2020 success;
- Cases north of the border have soared to their highest levels since the pandemic began. Officials have linked almost 2,000 cases to the football;
- And No10 today scrapped its weekly Indian Covid variant update now that the strain makes up almost all new cases detected across the country;
- As Boris Johnson came under mounting pressure to scrap the daily figures because they are becoming ‘obsolete’ and ‘frighten’ the public;
- PHE study revealed two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines slashes the risk of death by 94 per cent among over-65s;
- MPs and ministers will reportedly be in the 40,000-strong crowd at this year’s Latitude Festival, organisers say.
Speaking while visiting a Nissan car factory in Sunderland, Mr Johnson said: ‘I know that people are impatient for us to open up faster and of course I want to do that.
‘But what I would say to people is we are now in the final furlong, I really believe.
‘We have to look very carefully at the data and at the moment what we are certainly seeing is a big increase in cases – 26,000 as you will have seen.
‘But that is not translating into a big increase in serious illness and death.
‘So, it looks ever clearer that we have broken, the vaccination programme, the speed of that vaccine rollout, has broken that link between infection and mortality and that is an amazing thing.
‘That gives us the scope we think on the 19th to go ahead, cautiously, irreversibly, to go ahead.’
Mr Johnson was asked whether the final easing of rules will include getting rid of face masks and social distancing.
He replied: ‘I know how impatient people are to get back to total normality as indeed am I and we will be setting out, I will be setting out in the course of the next few days what step four will look like exactly.
‘But I think I have said it before, we will be wanting to go back to a world that is as close to the status quo, ante Covid as possible.
‘Try to get back to life as close to it was before Covid but there may be some things we have to do and some extra precautions that we have to take, but I will be setting all of that out.’
The Prime Minister is under mounting pressure to scrap the Government’s daily Covid cases updates, after Tory MPs and some scientists said they were becoming obsolete and frightening the public.
Former Tory party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is among 48 MPs to have signed a letter to Mr Johnson warning that the current policy is ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unsustainable’. But Cabinet ministers shot down the calls, insisting that to stop publishing them would be to suggest they have ‘something to hide’.
Mr Johnson is also under mounting pressure to scrap the school ‘bubbles’ policy which forces children to self-isolate if there is a positive case in their year group.
Recent official data showed that 279,000 children in England are isolating because of possible contact with a Covid-19 case. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested that school bubbles will end when classes return after the summer holidays in September.
King’s College London ‘s Covid symptom study estimated there were 25,210 new cases every day in the UK last week, up by almost a third (31 per cent) from the previous seven-day spell. Their figures rely on daily reports from a million Britons
Scientists working on the app also said the UK’s R rate had crept up slightly to 1.1 per 100,000 in the week to June 26 (pictured), in a sign the Covid outbreak is again growing. The red line represents the R rate
Cases are accelerating across England’s regions and rising fastest in the West Midlands (80 per cent rise in a week, green line), the South East (52 per cent, pink line) and Yorkshire and the Humber (37 per cent, red line). Professor Tim Spector, who leads the app, warned staycations and the Euros were fuelling an uptick in Covid cases
Separate data from Test and Trace today showed England’s Covid cases rose by 43 per cent last week, from 55,577 to 79,248 people testing positive for the virus in the seven days to June 23
No10 scraps weekly Indian variant update amid calls for daily stats to be ditched
No10 has scrapped its weekly update on the spread of the Indian variant amid calls for the daily Covid stats to be ditched.
Public Health England (PHE) said it would now offer fortnightly reports now that the mutant strain is behind virtually all new cases.
The agency also claimed that the ‘clinical risk assessment’ of the Delta variant had changed, adding that there was little reason for the constant updates.
Confidence in the jabs has grown because Covid admissions and fatalities have been almost completely flat despite the variant infecting over 20,000 people a day.
The highly infectious Indian variant is now behind more than 95 per cent of cases in Britain after becoming the dominant strain in just two months.
PHE’s move today is the first hint that officials are prepared to tweak the way Covid stats are presented.
And it comes amid growing pressure for the daily death and infection figures to be dropped, with fed up MPs and scientists earlier this week saying they were becoming obsolete and serve only to ‘frighten’.
Even the Government’s own experts are calling for the change, with vaccine adviser Professor Robert Dingwall saying it is ‘well past time to panic about infection rates and to publish them obsessively’.
Cabinet ministers today said it would make it appear as if they have ‘something to hide’ if the numbers were to suddenly be dropped.
The Department of Health has been publishing the daily figures for the last 16 months as the nation has battled through the Covid pandemic.
There said there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of partially or fully vaccinated people catching the virus — but in most cases their symptoms were mild and similar to a ‘bad cold’. More than 80 per cent of infections were among the unvaccinated.
Professor Spector said the third wave of infections was likely to be ‘longer than expected’ because of the Euro 2020 tournament and a boom in staycations driving outbreaks in Cornwall, Devon, Brighton and Bournemouth.
He urged Britons to remain ‘extra vigilant’ against the threat posed by the virus. ‘With the summer holidays approaching, we need to remain extra vigilant and avoid unnecessary risks,’ he said. ‘Euro 2020 has the potential to spread the virus among tens of thousands of fans, so I think because of these factors we’ll continue to see high rates for longer than expected.’
The ZOE symptom study also estimated the R rate — which monitors the spread of the virus — is now 1.1 meaning the UK’s outbreak is growing. Cases are rising fastest in the West Midlands, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber, they predicted.
Scottish health officials linked almost 2,000 cases to the football yesterday, two-thirds of which were among fans who travelled to London to watch their team’s crunch tie with England.
The country’s cases are doubling every seven days and yesterday public health chiefs recorded 3,887 positive tests, the highest number north of the border since the pandemic began.
There are now escalating fears that England’s infection numbers will follow suit, particularly after the Three Lions qualified for the final stage of the tournament.
UEFA’s medical chief has admitted it ‘cannot be excluded’ that there could be a local increase in Covid cases linked to matches.
Euro 2020 medical adviser Dr Daniel Koch said on Thursday: ‘It cannot be totally excluded that events and gatherings could ultimately lead to some local increase in the number of cases.
‘But this would not only apply to football matches, but also to any kind of situations that are now allowed as part of the easing measures decided by the competent local authorities.
‘The intensive vaccination campaigns that have been rolled out across Europe and the border controls will help ensure that no new big wave will start in Europe and put pressure on the respective health systems, as was the case during the previous infection waves.’
Experts have told MailOnline that it is highly likely gatherings due to the football will spark an uptick in caes in the coming days, which will only get worse as the further the team progresses in the competition. The next game, against Ukraine, is on Saturday.
Separate data from Test and Trace today showed Covid cases rose by 43 per cent in England last week, after 79,248 people tested positive over the seven days to June 23. There were 55,577 cases in the previous week.
This graph shows infection rates increasing in different regions of England. They have surged fastest in the North East last week where they almost doubled (dark grey). It is now the country’s Covid hotspot followed by the North West (yellow)
PHE data also showed Covid cases detected in the community (green bar) had surged last week in line with other estimates. But cases in healthcare settings (red bars) remained low. The positivity rates (yellow and black dotted lines), which show the proportion of all Covid tests that came back positive, have also started to creep upwards
Separate data from PHE found Covid cases are now rising in every region in England. They are also rising in every council area except Blackburn with Darwen — which was a hotspot for the Indian variant.
The North East is recording the fastest surge in infections (98 per cent from 175.3 to 346.4 per 100,000), followed by the West Midlands (91 per cent from 81.7 to 155.6 per 100,000) and the East of England (84 per cent from 47.7 to 87.7 per 100,000).
The North East is also the country’s new Covid hotspot (346.4), followed by the North West (325.3) which was the first area to suffer a major outbreak of the Indian variant and Yorkshire and the Humber (212.8).
One in five council areas saw their Covid cases more than double last week, with the sharpest rises in Torbay (261 per cent to 103.5 per 100,000), Hartlepool (253.3 per cent to 233.8 per 100,000) and Redcar and Cleveland (223 per cent up to 2212.2 per 100,000).
In Blackburn with Darwen cases fell by 3.6 per cent to 497 per 100,000.
Dr Doyle said: ‘Across all areas of the country cases are rising rapidly although it is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate.
‘Case rates are currently highest in younger age groups, who are less likely to be hospitalised so the vaccine is working to reduce severe disease in more vulnerable groups.
‘We continue to monitor the data closely, to ensure policy is well informed.
‘Many of us will be joining friends and family to watch England in the Euros on Saturday night, but please follow the guidelines in place to reduce the risk and enjoy the match safely — watching the game outside will always be safer than gathering indoors.’
No10 scientists at war over jabbing kids: Vaccine adviser claims letting children catch Covid is safer than giving them jab but top SAGE member objects
Matching 2nd wave cases to 3rd wave, increase is identical
A row erupted today among No10’s experts over whether Britain should vaccinate children against Covid.
One of the Government’s top vaccine advisers has claimed that letting youngsters catch Covid could actually be safer than giving them a jab.
Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said children are at a vanishingly small risk of Covid.
Whereas, in very rare cases, the vaccines have been linked to blood clots and heart issues, mostly in young people.
The argument for vaccinating children is that it will lower infection rates and therefore protect adults.
But Professor Dingwall urged people not to ‘panic about infection rates’. He said Covid was no longer a significant cause of death and science should not aim to ‘deliver immortality’.
His comments came in reaction to a SAGE adviser calling for all children to be vaccinated before the restrictions in schools are lifted, despite hospitalisations and deaths remaining flat in the face of rising case numbers.
Britain is currently on track to give all adults at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of July, according to officials, but it could take three more months just to give one jab to the 14million under-18s in the UK.
The vaccine rollout is expected to stay at around 150,000 first doses a day in the next few months because of shortages in the supply of Pfizer and Moderna’s jabs and because the AstraZeneca vaccine is not being given to young people.
Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, insisted the ‘safest time’ to lift measures at schools — including mask wearing, Covid bubbles and mass testing — would be after all children have had a jab.
And Professor Jeffrey Almond, another adviser to the UK’s vaccine taskforce, said vaccinating children is needed for the country to reach herd immunity.
The JCVI is due to produce recommendations on vaccinating children within the coming weeks but has repeatedly put back a decision as it seeks more safety data from America.
It is understood to be leaning towards recommending against jabs for teenagers.
The row comes as a poll found three in four people support offering the vaccine to all children aged 17 and younger.
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