Health

UK’s daily Covid cases drop for FOURTH day in a row: Infections fall 11% in a week to 43,941

Britain’s Covid cases have fallen for the fourth day in a row, official knowledge as we speak revealed as one of many Government’s prime scientific advisers claimed rising pure immunity in youngsters is behind the fall.

Department of Health bosses posted one other 43,941 new infections, down 10.6 per cent on final Wednesday’s complete of 49,139. 

Daily cases have been shrinking since Sunday after reaching a three-month excessive final week and Government ministers as we speak claimed the prospect of ministers activating their winter ‘Plan B’ is lower than 20 per cent.

But the variety of individuals dying with Covid has continued to extend, with 207 new fatalities recorded as we speak. It was up 15.6 per cent on final week’s 179.

And there was a 2.9 per cent week-on-week enhance in hospitalisations on Saturday, the newest date knowledge is out there for. They reached 894, up from the 869 recorded the week earlier than. 

Trends in deaths and hospitalisations are likely to lag behind infections due to the time it takes for the virus to incubate and extreme illness to take maintain.

Separate knowledge as we speak revealed infections had been falling in youngsters even earlier than half-term started, in a signal that prime ranges of immunity could have began to thwart the virus. The development suggests the downfall in infections is just not solely all the way down to the drop-off in testing — which has fallen from greater than a million to only over 800,000 in a week —whereas youngsters aren’t in faculty.

Department of Health statistics present cases amongst 5 to 19-year-olds in England peaked on the Tuesday earlier than faculties broke up for the week-long vacation and have dropped ever since.

Experts stated the drop was possible real, however cautioned that testing charges in kids could have dipped barely in the run-up to the break. They added: ‘I do not know for sure, however I’d assume [the drop] will likely be sustained.’   

SAGE epidemiologist Professor John Edmunds, whose grim modelling in July predicted hospitalisations would have reached  3,500 a day by now, stated the spike in infections over the previous few months was pushed by ‘big numbers of cases’ in kids. Health officers estimate as many as one in 12 youngsters throughout England had been carrying the virus final week.

The surge in infections ‘will ultimately result in excessive ranges of immunity in youngsters’ which is able to see cases plateau after which fall, Professor Edmunds stated. He added that it ‘could also be that we’re attaining that now’.

The above graph reveals Covid an infection charges per 100,000 individuals in England divided by age group. It reveals that cases in 5 to 19-year-olds could have peaked and have now begun to fall. But in all different age teams they had been nonetheless rising

Experts warn UK in opposition to ‘blindly’ following US in jabbing wholesome five-year-olds in opposition to Covid as a result of the explanations are ‘scientifically weak’ 

Arguments to vaccinate youngsters as younger as 5 in opposition to Covid are ‘scientifically weak’, British specialists claimed as we speak after the US moved nearer to jabbing infants. 

An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday virtually unanimously agreed the advantages of giving under-12s Pfizer’s jab outweighed dangers.

American well being chiefs are anticipated to inexperienced mild the plans inside days, which is able to put strain on the UK to observe go well with.

But British scientists have warned in opposition to ‘blindly’ recommending the jabs to major school-aged youngsters with out weighing up the dangers ‘extraordinarily fastidiously’. 

Professor David Livermore, a medical microbiologist on the University of East Anglia advised MailOnline: ‘Vaccinating youngsters to guard adults through herd immunity is ethically doubtful and is scientifically weak.’

There are additionally nonetheless fears about myocarditis, a type of coronary heart irritation detected in youngsters, principally boys, in round one in 10,000 cases after vaccination.

Critics say youngsters are higher off catching Covid and getting safety naturally as a result of the chance of being admitted to ICU is about one in 500,000.

There are indicators that pure immunity in British kids is already slowing the epidemic. But some research have advised myocarditis is much more frequent after Covid an infection itself, which complicates the matter additional.  

Professor Russell Viner, a pediatrician and member of the UK Government’s scientific advisory group SAGE, stated it was essential the UK doesn’t ‘rush to a choice’ in the wake of the announcement in the US.

In different Covid developments: 

  • Experts warned Britain in opposition to ‘blindly’ following the US in jabbing five-year-olds as a result of the arguments behind the transfer are ‘scientifically weak;
  • A subvariant of the Covid Delta pressure which is on the rise in the UK is now on the World Health Organization‘s radar; 
  • A prime Government adviser stated the Covid booster vaccine programme ought to be expanded to middle-aged and younger adults as soon as susceptible teams have been supplied a third jab;
  • Novavax formally sought regulatory approval of its coronavirus vaccine in Britain.

A complete of 49,8million first doses of Covid vaccine had been delivered in the UK as of yesterday, a rise of 41,083 on the earlier day, Government figures present.

Some 45,605,922 second doses have now been delivered, a rise of 23,031.

A mixed complete of 6,706,468 booster and third doses have additionally been delivered, a day-on-day rise of 264,468.

Separate totals for booster and third doses aren’t accessible.

Daily Covid infections in the UK breached the 50,000 barrier final week. It prompted medical unions, some scientists and Labour to name for Plan B — necessary face masks, do business from home steerage and vaccine passports — to be carried out instantly in a bid to manage infections.

But optimistic modelling from SAGE has claimed infections could even droop to the 5,000 mark over the approaching months, even with out No10 caving into calls for and resorting to virus-controlling interventions.

Scientists stated a mixture of booster vaccines, rising pure immunity in youngsters and a drop in classroom mixing in the course of the October half-term break would drag cases down. 

Department of Health knowledge suggests Covid cases have now peaked amongst faculty youngsters, in a optimistic signal that they might quickly fall in different age teams that they’re passing the virus on to.

Its figures are printed by when individuals truly took their check, moderately than once they obtained their outcome, which specialists say is extra dependable as a result of it accounts for reporting delays. 

Cases amongst 10 to 14-year-olds — the age group with the very best an infection rate — could have peaked on October 19 at 1,925.2 optimistic exams per 100,000 individuals. 

For 15 to 19-year-olds and 5 to 9 year olds, the rate additionally hit a excessive on October 19 of 861.3 and 760.7, respectively.

But over the subsequent two days that knowledge is out there official figures present the an infection rate dipped in these age teams. For 10 to 14-year-olds it had fallen to 1,868.9 by the top of October 21.

‘Less than 20% likelihood’ No10 will activate Plan B now cases are going in the ‘proper course’, Whitehall sources say 

The likelihood of ministers activating their winter Covid ‘Plan B’ is lower than 20 per cent, Government sources claimed as we speak — however face masks would possibly make a partial comeback in faculties.

Despite warning final week that daily cases could rise to 100,000 this winter, Downing Street is assumed to have taken confidence from the fall in nationwide infections in latest days and optimistic forecasts by SAGE.

Scientific advisers have advised the Government that the epidemic might shrink naturally subsequent month with out curbs due to a mixture of the booster vaccine rollout and rising pure immunity in youngsters.

A Whitehall supply advised the Financial Times as we speak that the scenario was now heading ‘in the suitable course’, including: ‘I reckon there’s a lower than 20 per cent likelihood we’ll must activate Plan B.’ 

Another senior Government official warned in opposition to being complacent as a result of it’s ‘too early to learn a lot into the info’. But they conceded that ‘there’s nothing to at present counsel we have to activate Plan B’.

And amongst 15- to 19-year-olds it was 843.4, whereas for 5 to nine-year-olds it had dipped to 746.2.

The figures had been nonetheless up on the identical time the earlier week however the quantity they’re rising week-on-week is falling in one other signal that cases have already peaked in the age teams.

The overwhelming majority of faculties broke up for half-term this Monday.

But a small quantity — together with these in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire amongst different areas — began the vacation the Monday earlier than for a two-week break. This could have influenced the an infection rate, specialists cautioned. 

Professor Hunter advised MailOnline: ‘There is a signal that cases could also be happening. If you take a look at the operating seven-day common, they’re nonetheless going up however moderately extra slowly than they had been a few days in the past.

‘This is round about a week earlier than half time period began, so there is likely to be some aspect of decreased testing in youngsters as a result of they had been coming to the varsity vacation interval. 

‘So, you have to be a bit cautious about that, however definitely the essential figures look as if case numbers have began to say no in all youngsters underneath 20.’

There is not any age breakdown on testing knowledge, however the figures counsel there was not a important drop off in the variety of lateral circulate exams carried out over the past two weeks with round 550,000 accomplished each day. Secondary faculty youngsters in England are requested to check themselves for the virus twice a week. 

Asked whether or not the drop was more likely to be sustained, Professor Hunter added: ‘I do not know for sure, however I’d assume it most likely will likely be sustained. 

[But] I’d not wager the home on it in phrases of whether it is sustained how lengthy will or not it’s sustained for and the way deeply it is going to drop.’

He advised that the figures could supply but extra proof that the virus has began to turn out to be endemic, with Britain not in a fragile state the place cases might explode at any level. Instead, he advised cases will begin to oscillate as immunity fades.

Covid antibody ranges aren’t estimated in under-16s, however for 16 to 24-year-olds, the youngest age group accessible, some 95.6 per cent are predicted to have antibodies regardless of solely 81.4 per cent getting not less than one dose of the vaccine. 

The above graph shows the number of lateral flow tests carried out daily. It reveals that over the two weeks before half term the number completed remained similar, at around 550,000 a day

The above graph reveals the variety of lateral circulate exams carried out daily. It reveals that over the 2 weeks earlier than half time period the quantity accomplished remained related, at round 550,000 a day 

Officials do not collect data on antibody levels among under-16s. But for those aged 16 to 24-years-old they found 95.6 per cent had antibodies against the virus (top left, green line) despite only 81.4 per cent (top left, blue line) having been vaccinated. Vaccines are now available for 12 to 15-year-olds, but it is likely many already have immunity from past infection

Officials don’t gather knowledge on antibody ranges amongst under-16s. But for these aged 16 to 24-years-old they discovered 95.6 per cent had antibodies in opposition to the virus (prime left, inexperienced line) regardless of solely 81.4 per cent (prime left, blue line) having been vaccinated. Vaccines are actually accessible for 12 to 15-year-olds, however it’s possible many have already got immunity from previous an infection

Why would possibly Covid infections in faculty youngsters have peaked? 

Department of Health knowledge suggests Covid infections amongst faculty youngsters peaked earlier than half time period started.

Scientists have advised that this might have been brought on by rising immunity in the age group, or a discount in Covid testing.

Antibody ranges 

SAGE scientists have advised rising antibody ranges in youngsters may very well be behind the fall in cases. 

No vaccine was supplied to youngsters earlier than they returned to highschool, that means solely those that had beforehand caught the virus had safety in opposition to it.

But following a big again to highschool wave the variety of youngsters with Covid-fighting antibodies has been boosted, that means extra are protected in opposition to the virus.

Those aged 12 to fifteen had been additionally supplied one dose of a Covid vaccine from September 20 to make sure extra of them had safety.

But uptake has been sluggish and the vaccination drive has been sluggish. 

Some 12 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds have been vaccinated to date, in response to figures from the UK Health Security Agency.

Covid testing

Scientists have additionally advised that a drop in Covid testing may very well be behind the advised fall in infections in faculty youngsters.

Children are required to swab themselves twice a week for the virus utilizing lateral circulate exams, and report the outcomes to Test and Trace.

Some have advised the variety of exams carried out could have dropped forward of the vacations as individuals turned extra relaxed about taking them.

But Department of Health knowledge suggests a related variety of lateral circulate exams had been accomplished over the 2 weeks earlier than half time period, averaging about 550,000 a day.

The overwhelming majority of England’s faculties broke up for the vacations this Monday.

But there’s a small group — corresponding to faculties in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire — which broke up the earlier Monday for two weeks. This could have influenced the info. 

Professor Hunter stated: ‘So, of the 18.6 per cent of people who haven’t had the vaccine 76 per cent have additionally obtained antibodies presumably from an an infection.

‘Given what we all know concerning the disappearance of antibodies with time this implies the big majority of unvaccinated individuals in this age group have already had the an infection and may have related safety in opposition to an infection than if that they had been immunised.’

It is probably going that immunity ranges are excessive amongst under-16s regardless that the vaccine was solely made accessible to 12 to 15-year-olds following September 20. 

Many have already caught the virus, with an infection charges in the age group breaking data after faculties went again. 

Professor Edmunds advised BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the consensus amongst modellers was that cases would both stage off or begin to drop in the approaching weeks.

He stated: ‘That’s as a result of the epidemic in the previous few months has been actually pushed by big numbers of cases in youngsters. I imply actually big numbers of cases in youngsters. And that can ultimately result in excessive ranges of immunity in youngsters and it might be that we’re attaining that now.

‘Achieving I believe is the fallacious phrase, but it surely is likely to be we’re attending to excessive ranges of immunity in youngsters via these actually excessive charges of an infection we have had and it might begin to stage off.’

But Professor Edmunds warned fashions offered to ministers additionally counsel cases might rise once more in the spring resulting from waning immunity and a return to normality.

He stated booster doses — at present given to over-50s, healthcare staff and people with underlying situations — ought to be dished out as quick as potential to handle waning immunity and rising infections.

And they need to be supplied to youthful individuals ‘in time’, Professor Edmunds stated. 

Infections amongst faculty youngsters surged to their highest stage because the pandemic started in the wake of faculties getting back from the summer time holidays in September.

Some native authorities and head academics have carried out restrictions in their faculties in a bid to cease cases spiralling — corresponding to requiring face masks in corridors and siblings of contaminated pupils to self-isolate.

But in July England formally dropped virtually all Covid restrictions in faculties, with solely twice weekly testing and ten-day isolation for PCR-positive youngsters stored in place.

There have been calls in the final week for the UK to implement its Plan B winter plan — which ministers stated would solely be introduced if if the NHS faces unsustainable strain.

Under present measures, the Government is specializing in the rollout of booster jabs and vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds in a bid to curb rising cases. It is not going to swap to additional curbs — face masks and do business from home — except the NHS comes underneath ‘unsustainable’ strain.

The British Medical Association, the union for medical doctors, accused the Government of being ‘wilfully negligent’ for not bringing again Covid restrictions.

And Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer on Monday revealed he was in favour of the Plan B measures as a result of it was ‘frequent sense’ they usually defend ‘your self and everyone else’.

But ministers have taken confidence from unusually optimistic SAGE modelling, which estimated the epidemic will shrink or keep effectively under pervious waves this winter even with out the Government’s Plan B of face masks, vaccine passports and do business from home. 

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