Britain’s Covid cases ARE coming down: Notoriously gloomy study admits infections fell 5% in a week


Covid cases in the UK have fallen five per cent in a week and ‘have probably peaked for 2021’, experts behind one of the country’s largest surveillance studies said today. 

King’s College London scientists who run the research have been saying for months that cases were consistently soaring — despite official numbers painting a more mixed picture.

Last week the study found that Britain was getting ‘worryingly close’ to 100,000 symptomatic cases per day, while Government dashboard data found that they were falling to below 40,000.

Now the KCL team estimate there were about 89,000 new symptomatic infections every day last week, down on the 93,000 they forecasted the previous week. It marks the first time the surveillance project found a sustained week-on-week fall since before schools went back in September.

Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist behind the survey, said the country is probably over the ‘last great peak of Covid’ for the year.

The distinguished scientist has softened his stance on the UK’ coronavirus situation after last month pleading for the Government to take a more cautious approach because the country was ‘really in trouble’. 

His symptom-tracking study, ran alongside healthtech firm ZOE, relies on people coming forward to report their result, which experts say makes it susceptible to bias.  

The ZOE findings are in line with the downward trend reported in the daily Department of Health statistics, which have fallen in 10 of the last 11 days. Scientific advisers told No10 the epidemic could shrink naturally without curbs because of a combination of the booster vaccine rollout and growing natural immunity in children, who triggered an explosion in cases.

Meanwhile, ministers expected to reveal in the coming days that NHS won’t have to get a Covid jab this winter to keep their jobs — one of the measures they were considering to keep the pandemic at bay this winter. But the no jab, no job rule will come into play from April, Whitehall insiders say.

The experts behind the ZOE Covid Study — which is based on reports from around 750,000 weekly contributors and more than 40,000 swabs — calculated there were 88,592 daily symptomatic Covid cases across the UK, based on data from 42,359 positive PCR and lateral flow tests taken between October 16 and 30. Around a third of cases (26,928) are among double-jabbed Brits, up from 26,928 last week, the study found.

The experts behind the ZOE Covid Study — which is based on reports from around 750,000 weekly contributors and more than 40,000 swabs — calculated there were 88,592 daily symptomatic Covid cases across the UK, based on data from 42,359 positive PCR and lateral flow tests taken between October 16 and 30. Around a third of cases (26,928) are among double-jabbed Brits, up from 26,928 last week, the study found.

A drop in infection rates among children is the main driver of the downward tread, the researchers said. One in 34 people aged 10 to 19 were infected last week, while the rate is one in 52 for children aged nine and under. Infections are levelling off in all other groups apart from those aged 55 to 75, which the experts said is a 'cause for concern' — but rates are still below the national average in the group

A drop in infection rates among children is the main driver of the downward tread, the researchers said. One in 34 people aged 10 to 19 were infected last week, while the rate is one in 52 for children aged nine and under. Infections are levelling off in all other groups apart from those aged 55 to 75, which the experts said is a ’cause for concern’ — but rates are still below the national average in the group

Across the UK, one in 53 people have symptomatic Covid, while the figure is higher in England (one in 52) and Wales (one in 42), while it is less in Scotland (one in 81). The researchers said there were not enough respondents in Northern Ireland to generate a reliable estimate. Within the UK, infection rates are highest in West Midlands (one in 45), South West (one in 45) and North East (one in 46)

Across the UK, one in 53 people have symptomatic Covid, while the figure is higher in England (one in 52) and Wales (one in 42), while it is less in Scotland (one in 81). The researchers said there were not enough respondents in Northern Ireland to generate a reliable estimate. Within the UK, infection rates are highest in West Midlands (one in 45), South West (one in 45) and North East (one in 46)

Across the UK, one in 53 people had symptomatic Covid last week, while the figure is higher in England (one in 52) and Wales (one in 42), while it is less in Scotland (one in 81), according to the Covid Symptom Study. Within the UK,infection rates are highest in Midlands, South East and North East

Across the UK, one in 53 people had symptomatic Covid last week, while the figure is higher in England (one in 52) and Wales (one in 42), while it is less in Scotland (one in 81), according to the Covid Symptom Study. Within the UK,infection rates are highest in Midlands, South East and North East

The surveillance study predicted an average of 1,489 people a day who had Covid in the last week will go on to experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks

The surveillance study predicted an average of 1,489 people a day who had Covid in the last week will go on to experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks

NHS staff WON’T be forced to have a compulsory Covid jab this winter despite fears of a spike in cases

NHS workers won’t face being sacked if they don’t get vaccinated against Covid this winter, it was claimed today despite fears of another wave over the coming months.

Ministers are set to announce compulsory jabs for hundreds of thousands of frontline medics in the coming days, but the actual rule is not expected to be enforced until April.

The policy is part of efforts to control rising infections, which will also soon include allowing the double-jabbed to book their third booster dose a month earlier than planned to speed up the roll-out.

Officials have been deliberating over a ‘no jab, no job’ move for NHS staff for months, in a bid to protect the health service this winter. Ministers have already pressed ahead with the same controversial move for care home workers, who are required to have two doses from November 11 in order to keep their jobs.

Department of Health bosses told MailOnline ‘no final decision’ had been made, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid rumoured to still have reservations about the policy — despite publicly admitting that he was ‘leaning towards’ the mandate.

However, a Whitehall insider close to the negotiations claimed the move was a ‘done deal’ and could be formally unveiled as soon as today.

It comes after England’s deputy chief medical officer yesterday said Covid booster shots, flu jabs and ‘caution’ are key to coping with the virus during the ‘problematic’ Christmas period. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam hinted further lockdowns could be avoided and the pandemic brought under control by spring if people act responsibly.  

The symptom study estimated there were 88,592 daily symptomatic Covid cases across the UK every day in the week up to October 30.

This was based on data from 42,359 positive PCR and lateral flow tests, and hundreds of thousands of users of the app.

Around a third of cases (26,928) were among double-jabbed Brits.

Across the UK, one in 53 people were estimated to have symptomatic Covid, while the figure is higher in England (one in 52) and Wales (one in 42), while it was less in Scotland (one in 81). 

The researchers said there were not enough respondents in Northern Ireland to generate a reliable estimate.

Within the UK, infection rates were highest in West Midlands (one in 45), South West (one in 45) and North East (one in 46).

A drop in infection rates among children was the main driver of the downward tread, the researchers said.

One in 34 people aged 10 to 19 were infected last week, while the rate is one in 52 for children aged nine and under. 

Infections are levelling off in all other groups apart from those aged 55 to 75, which the experts said is a ’cause for concern’ — but rates are still below the national average in the group. 

And it estimated the the R rate stood at one across the UK. This suggests that for every ten people who have the virus, they are passing it on to 10 more people.

ZOE also predicted 1,489 people a day will go on to experience Covid symptoms for longer than 12 weeks.

Professor Spector said: ‘It’s great that we’re finally seeing cases start to come down, and hopefully we’re over the last great peak of Covid in 2021. 

‘This is driven in large part by declining cases in children who have been on half term holidays and by high rates of previous infection, but we’re hopeful that the trend will continue.’

He warned that is is ‘still worrying that cases in the older, more vulnerable age group are increasing’ but said the booster programme will likely bring cases down.  

Professor Spector said: ‘As the temperatures drop and winter comes we’re still seeing far too much Covid in the community leading to high long Covid and hospitalisation rates compared to other countries in Western Europe. 

‘With high rates of other viral respiratory illnesses too (although no flu yet), there is no room for complacency.’

Covid cases hit record highs in October because of outbreaks in schoolchildren, mass surveillance study claims 

More people were infected with Covid in England last month than at any point this year, a mass testing study claimed yesterday.

REACT-1 data — taken from one of the largest surveillance projects in England — show around 1.72 per cent of people (one in 58) across the country had the virus on any given day in October.

It was up from just 0.83 per cent the previous month and marked the highest point in any point sampled by the study.

But the Imperial College London researchers did not collect data during the height of the second wave towards the end of December and start of January.

Experts warned the figures, based on random testing of tens of thousands of people, show ‘the pandemic is far from over and remains a serious threat to health and wellbeing’.

Infections grew quickest in children aged five to 17, with nearly six per cent in the age group infected at any one point during the month, and doubled in people aged 65 and over.

And outbreaks grew in eight out of nine regions, with the highest rates found in the South West where prevalence quadrupled.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘Although the number of hospitalisations and deaths remain lower than in previous peaks, these findings are a powerful reminder that the pandemic is far from over and remains a serious threat to health and wellbeing.

‘This new data strongly reinforces the need for all eligible age groups to get vaccinated and to take mitigating measures such as wearing a face covering in crowded places and ensuring good ventilation indoors.

‘This is particularly urgent for older people whose immunity may be waning given that several months have passed since they received their jabs.

‘I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible for a third dose or a booster shot to come forward without delay.’  

He added: ‘While restrictions, masks and vaccine uptake in children are factors, it’s clear that there’s no single solution to bringing rates down permanently. 

‘We’ve seen that a combination of population safety precautions and vaccines works best, and so the third booster vaccine, coupled with mask wearing and distancing in high risk areas, is our way out.’

Meanwhile, Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, said the half-term break has likely reduced transmission among children and rates may rise as pupils return to classrooms.

He said: ‘But one consequence of all this virus transmission in younger people is that they will become immune and as immunity builds transmission will slow. 

‘Whilst I don’t expect massive increases in case numbers, I think case numbers over the next few months will still be lumpy as the virus continues to circulate in unvaccinated people and in those whose immunity has started to wane. 

‘That’s why it’s so important for people to get vaccinated and, when invited, get their booster jab.’

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘The suggestion that Covid cases have probably peaked for 2021 is likely to be correct.

‘As was reported in the past few weeks most, but not all, of the models for Covid presented to Sage have suggested that the epidemic would peak late October/early November before declining towards the end of the year.

‘One of the uncertainties with the daily reported cases has been whether the half-term holiday could have led to an apparent fall because of reduced testing of children when not attending school.

‘Although this may have contributed to some of the fall, it could not account for all as case numbers started to decline the weekend before the start of the holiday and so far we have not seen a rebound increase because schools are now back this week, though we should wait another couple of days to be certain.’

Data from the gold-standard Office for National Statistics infection survey — which is closely watched by ministers but lags behind ZOE — estimated one in 50 people were infected in the seven days up to October 22, marking a 13 per cent rise in a week. 

Its next update is due Friday. 

It comes after Department of Health bosses posted 41,299 positive coronavirus tests yesterday , down six per cent on last Wednesday’s figure of 43,941. Cases have fallen week-on-week every day for eleven days barring Monday — a blip that was down to Wales not publishing any infection numbers the previous week. 

Hospitalisations remained flat on Saturday, the latest date data is available for. Some 888 patients were admitted with the virus, down 0.7 per cent on the week before.

But deaths are continuing to increase, jumping 4.8 per cent on last week’s total to 217. Changes in fatality levels lag several weeks behind cases because of how long it can take for infected patients to become severely ill.

The figures come after Professor Jonathan Van-Tam yesterday warned Britons that another Christmas lockdown could be on the cards if people act like the pandemic has finished.

England’s deputy chief medical officer said there were ‘hard months to come’ and the country’s infection rate was ‘running hot’ already heading into what is expected to be a tough winter for the NHS. In one of his now-famous analogies, he added: ‘The final whistle on Covid hasn’t blown yet.’

Professor Van-Tam urged the nation to behave responsibly and emphasised the importance of face masks — but did not outright call for their enforced return in public spaces.

But Whitehall insiders claimed today that NHS workers will not be forced to get a Covid jab this winter to keep their job — a policy that would have been part of efforts to control rising infections.

Ministers are set to announce compulsory jabs for hundreds of thousands of frontline medics in the coming days, but the actual rule is not expected to be enforced until April. 

Officials have been deliberating over a ‘no jab, no job’ move for NHS staff for months, in a bid to protect the health service this winter. Ministers have already pressed ahead with the same controversial move for care home workers, who are required to have two doses from November 11 in order to keep their jobs.

Department of Health bosses told MailOnline ‘no final decision’ had been made, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid rumoured to still have reservations about the policy — despite publicly admitting that he was ‘leaning towards’ the mandate.

However, a Whitehall insider close to the negotiations claimed the move was a ‘done deal’ and could be formally unveiled as soon as today.



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