health

Covid UK: Symptomatic cases rise 80% with North West and Scotland worst affected


Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from King's College London, has told No10 it should 'soften lockdown' but not lift it completely 'just yet' after data showed the number of Britons getting ill with Covid has increased by 81 per cent in a week

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from King’s College London, has told No10 it should ‘soften lockdown’ but not lift it completely ‘just yet’ after data showed the number of Britons getting ill with Covid has increased by 81 per cent in a week

A leading scientist who backed easing lockdown just two days ago has told No10 it should ‘soften’ restrictions but not lift them completely ‘just yet’ after data showed the number of Britons getting ill with Covid has spiked by 80 per cent in a week. 

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from King’s College London, threw his weight behind England’s June 21 Freedom Day on Tuesday, tweeting that ‘vaccines are working’ against the Indian variant and that outbreaks were confined to hotspot regions.

But the eminent professor changed his tune this morning in the face of stark findings from his Covid symptom tracking study.

It estimated there were 4,608 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK last week, up from 2,550 the week before, a rise of 81 per cent.


Professor Spector described surging cases in people aged between 20 and 39 as the ‘start of an epidemic in the young’.
 

The study found that teenagers through to under-30s, who are largely unvaccinated, were recording rates of about 140 cases per 100,000 people compared to fewer than 20 per 100,000 in the over-60s and 30 per 100,000 in the over-50s.

There are fears that if the virus is allowed to spread wildly in younger people while there are still millions of unvaccinated  older Brits, it will eventually infect them and push up hospitalisations and deaths.

Professor Spector said: ‘The data highlights that the increase is happening in the younger age groups, suggesting the start of an epidemic in the young. We can’t be too complacent, and we are monitoring things closely.

‘The ending of lockdown is on everyone’s minds and given the current situation, I believe we should continue to soften restrictions but not lift them all just yet.’

Meanwhile, separate NHS Test and Trace data released today shows cases in England have increased 22 per cent to 17,162.

It is the highest number of infections recorded by the contact tracing system since the middle of April, as fears surrounding the Indian variant mount.

The figures comes as Matt Hancock insisted ministers will focus on deaths and serious illness rather than infections when deciding if the June 21 unlocking can go ahead. 

Hospital rates remain flat nationally but are rising in the North West of England, where Indian variant hotspots are concentrated, and there is a sign they are ticking upwards in London and the East of England, which are also home to areas with high levels of the variant. 

The number of Britons getting ill with Covid has increased by 80 per cent in a week, according to the ZOE and King's College London study. It estimated there were 4,608 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK last week, up from 2,550 the week before

The number of Britons getting ill with Covid has increased by 80 per cent in a week, according to the ZOE and King’s College London study. It estimated there were 4,608 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK last week, up from 2,550 the week before

Professor Spector described surging cases in people aged between 20 and 39 as the 'start of an epidemic in the young'.  The study found that teenagers through to under-30s, who are largely unvaccinated, were recording rates of about 140 cases per 100,000 people compared to fewer than 20 per 100,000 in the over-60s and 30 per 100,000 in the over-50s

Professor Spector described surging cases in people aged between 20 and 39 as the ‘start of an epidemic in the young’.  The study found that teenagers through to under-30s, who are largely unvaccinated, were recording rates of about 140 cases per 100,000 people compared to fewer than 20 per 100,000 in the over-60s and 30 per 100,000 in the over-50s

NHS Test and Trace data shows 17,162 people tested positive for Covid at least once in England between May 20 and 26, a 22 per cent increase on the previous week

NHS Test and Trace data shows 17,162 people tested positive for Covid at least once in England between May 20 and 26, a 22 per cent increase on the previous week

Some 4.5million people were tested at least once between May 20 and 26 for Covid, consistent with the previous week

Some 4.5million people were tested at least once between May 20 and 26 for Covid, consistent with the previous week

Cases are concentrated in the North West and Scotland, where the R values reached 1.3 and 1.2 respectively according to the study. Right: Symptomatic cases in the week ending May 31. Left: Symptomatic cases in the week ending May 25

It comes as Public Health England’s weekly Covid surveillance report found infections rose in every region and age group last week.

WHAT HAS PROFESSOR TIM SPECTOR PREVIOUSLY SAID ABOUT JUNE 21 ? 

Professor Tim Spector has reversed his position from two days ago, when he appeared to throw his his weight behind easing lockdown. 

The Kings College London epidemiologist has been outspoken about needing to push ahead with the unlocking even when his peers have called for longer restrictions. 

Speaking after scores of SAGE experts came out against sticking to the date set out in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown on Tuesday, Professor Spector suggested vaccinations would keep the Indian variant at bay.

June 3 

The eminent professor changed his tune this morning in the face of stark findings from his Covid symptom tracking study.

He said:’The UK picture is changing quickly now. Cases are rising, but not nationwide, it’s very much a regional issue.

‘The North West of England and Scotland are the two regions with the highest prevalence, with rates higher than in some parts of Europe.

‘However, the data highlights that the increase is happening in the younger age groups, suggesting the start of an epidemic in the young. We can’t be too complacent, and we are monitoring things closely.

‘The ending of lockdown is on everyone’s minds and given the current situation, I believe we should continue to soften restrictions but not lift them all just yet.

‘While unlikely, it’s too early to tell if these increases are going to have any impact on hospital admissions or death rate.

‘The government said it would use data, not dates to make key decisions. It’s sensible to continue measures like working from home as transmission rates are very high in offices, not to mention the impact of increased use of public transport.

‘I’d also recommend we keep wearing masks on public transport and reduce overcrowding indoors.

‘What’s really important moving forward is having the flexibility to deal with local outbreaks while letting the rest of the country and economy get back to normal at the same time.’

June 1

On Tuesday he spoke out against SAGE’s public lobbying for a delayed or watered down June 21.

Professor Spector tweeted: ‘The UK hotspots clearly tell the story. The Delta variant has taken a hold of these areas but numbers are around 4,000 per day and is not taking hold more widely.

‘Virtually all cases are aged under 50 or unvaccinated — so vaccines work.’

May 27

Last week he said national figures remained ‘unaffected’, despite numerous measures saying that the outbreak was starting to get bigger with the quick growth of the Indian variant. 

May 20 

The week before he said it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the Indian variant outbreak would mean June 21 needed to be delayed. 

‘While the outbreaks remain localised and UK numbers are steady and most cases appear mild, it’s highly unlikely to cause the NHS to be overrun or stop us coming out of lockdown.’ 

North-west England saw the largest rise, with 87.4 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to May 30, up week-on-week from 53.7.

This is the highest for the region since the week ending February 28, and is also the highest of any region in England. South-west England has the lowest rate: 9.4, up very slightly week-on-week from 9.1.   

The ZOE Covid Symptom study relies on reports from more than 700,000 Britons on whether they are suffering Covid symptoms and have tested positive for the virus to model its spread through the country.

It showed on average one in 1,090 people showed signs of Covid in the last week and the national R rate is 1.1.

But cases were significantly higher in the North West — home to six of the top twelve hotspots for the Indian variant — and Scotland, which together made up 53 per cent of national infections.

The North West saw cases rise to 1,490 with Tameside (844 cases per 100,000 people) and Bury (587) the worst affected.

And Scotland had 944 symptomatic cases, which were concentrated in North Lanarkshire (645 cases per 100,000 people), North Ayrshire (542) and East Dunbartonshire (519).

The study also showed only one in 14,503 people who have had one vaccine dose suffer Covid symptoms, while one in 34,583 fully vaccinated adults do — compared to one in 6,710 unvaccinated people.

Professor Spector said: ‘The UK picture is changing quickly now. Cases are rising, but not nationwide, it’s very much a regional issue.

‘The North West of England and Scotland are the two regions with the highest prevalence, with rates higher than in some parts of Europe.

‘However, the data highlights that the increase is happening in the younger age groups, suggesting the start of an epidemic in the young. We can’t be too complacent, and we are monitoring things closely.

‘The ending of lockdown is on everyone’s minds and given the current situation, I believe we should continue to soften restrictions but not lift them all just yet.

‘While unlikely, it’s too early to tell if these increases are going to have any impact on hospital admissions or death rate.

‘The government said it would use data, not dates to make key decisions. It’s sensible to continue measures like working from home as transmission rates are very high in offices, not to mention the impact of increased use of public transport.

‘I’d also recommend we keep wearing masks on public transport and reduce overcrowding indoors.

‘What’s really important moving forward is having the flexibility to deal with local outbreaks while letting the rest of the country and economy get back to normal at the same time.’

NHS Test and Trace figures released today show testing numbers remained stable at around 4.5million over the last week, while recording an increase of 22 per cent of cases.

Some 13,644 cases were transferred to the contact tracing system between May 20 and 26, an increase of 26 per cent on the previous week.

MailOnline analysis yesterday showed the number of people in hospital with Covid is only rising in the North West, where Indian variant hotspots are concentrated, going up by 24 per cent over the last fortnight of May to 177 Covid patients on wards. 

Speaking to reporters on a visit to a school Mr Johnson struck an optimistic tone, but admitted infections are rising and that he needs to be ‘cautious’. He insisted people must ‘wait a little longer’ for the final decision.

The Prime Minister said: ‘What we need to work out is to what extent the vaccination programme has protected enough of us, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, against a new surge, and there I’m afraid the data is still ambiguous. The best the scientists can say at the moment is we just need to give it a little bit longer.’

One of the top scientific advisers to No10, Oxford medicine professor Sir John Bell, said he was optimistic that the roadmap would be able to go ahead and urged ministers not to run scared from rising cases in the face of the new variant and lifting lockdown rules but to watch data on hospital admissions and deaths instead.

Hitting back at members of SAGE calling for a longer lockdown, Sir John Bell said ministers must instead focus on hospitalisations and deaths, which have remained flat nationally but there are signs of admissions increasing.  

The Oxford University medical expert, who has advised the Government on Covid tests and vaccines, suggested the country must take a leap of faith and put trust in its world-beating vaccination rollout.

Covid cases were significantly higher in the North West — home to six of the top twelve hotspots for the Indian variant — and Scotland. Graph shows: The estimated number of cases in each region of the UK across May

Covid cases were significantly higher in the North West — home to six of the top twelve hotspots for the Indian variant — and Scotland. Graph shows: The estimated number of cases in each region of the UK across May

Becoming the highest profile Government adviser to advocate for June 21 to go ahead, Sir John told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think we do need to keep our eye on hospitalisations, serious disease and deaths, which is really what we are trying to manage.

‘If we scamper down a rabbit hole every time we see a new variant we are going to spend a long time huddled away — so I think we need to get a bit of balance into the discussion and keep our eyes on the serious disease we are trying to prevent.’

Pressure has been mounting on Mr Johnson to push back England’s June 21 lockdown easings to buy time to roll out jabs to millions more people to further curb the transmission of the Indian variant. 

But Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon has already delayed unlocking north of the border, admitting she was worried about the rapid spread of the virus.



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more