A large observational study showed that Covid-19 cases rose by a fifth last week, with more than 76,000 Britons falling ill each day.
Professor Tim Spector, the lead epidemiologist behind the study, cautioned that cases were ‘too high’ and now was not the time to ‘pray the UK as a success story for Covid’.
A study tracking symptoms of King’s College London ZOE estimated that 76,728 people fell ill each day in the week ending November 20, based on test results from nearly 750,000 volunteers.
It represents an 18 per cent increase over the previous week’s estimate and means one in 66 Britons has had a symptomatic infection at any time.
The R rate – the average number of people an infected person transmits the virus to – is estimated to be around 1.1 across the UK, but is slightly lower in Scotland (1.0).
The KCL team said cases are now led by non-vaccinators, with 52,509 cases in the past week in those who were not stabbed at all or had only one dose.
Infections are increasing faster among people under the age of 18, many of whom are not eligible for vaccinations. Pediatric cases have been described as the ‘main driver of relapse in the overall numbers’.
Cases of symptomatic Covid rose by nearly a fifth last week with more than 76,000 Britons falling ill each day, according to a study tracking symptoms of ZOE at King’s College London.
The ZOE study showed that cases are highest in children under 18 (blue line), who see more than 30,000 symptomatic infections per day. In contrast, people aged 75 or older (purple line) had the lowest level of disease, with fewer than 1,000 estimated cases in the age group each day.
Covid was most prevalent in Yorkshire and the Humber (shown with the North East in the above graph as red line), where 1 in 56 people were infected each day during the week. It was followed by the East of England (one in 62, Blue Line) and West Midlands (one in 63). London (orange line) had the lowest rate with only 8,813 cases per day estimated in the capital – a rate of 1 in 81 people.
Get the booster by December 11th and you’ll be ‘Super Protected’ at Christmas
Eligible Brits have a two-week window to get a Covid Booster if they want to get maximum protection from the virus on Christmas Day.
The NHS has issued an appeal for the nearly 7 million – or three in 10 – eligible people who have not yet received the critical third dose.
Real-world UK data shows that protection against COVID-19 rises to more than 90 per cent after two weeks of injection. The immunity against hospitalization and death is even higher.
Officials said that means that getting a booster dose by December 11 will give people “very high protection against Covid by Christmas Day”.
Reinforcements are given to everyone over 40, as long as it has been six months since the second dose. But people can book their appointment at the five-month mark.
Figures show that 23 million people had received a dual vaccination against Covid by May 25, which is about six months ago.
Currently 16 million boosters have been administered, indicating that 7 million (30 percent) remain to be served.
The UK is hoping for a relatively normal Christmas this year after a spike in Covid cases in the last few weeks of 2020 prompted last-minute lockdown restrictions.
Prof Spector said: “Seeing cases increasing again is really frustrating and the recent ups and downs, unlike previous waves, make it difficult to predict where things will be from week to week. However, for me, the message is that cases are still very high.
Although we look, at the moment, better than some European countries in terms of the number of cases, the UK continues to see a relatively high rate of hospitalizations and deaths, which is a real cause for concern.
Given the current overburden on our hospitals, now is not the time to portray the UK as a Covid success story, far from it.
“While the increase in new cases is being driven by children, focusing on it in the short term would be a mistake.”
He continued: “While the government is unlikely to impose restrictions on Christmas, family gatherings will undoubtedly increase the risks, especially for older and more vulnerable family members who have not yet received their third dose of vaccine.
“Saving Christmas is up to us. Those of us who qualify for the third shot must take it now, and we must bear in mind that one in four people with cold-like symptoms has Covid.
“Be mindful of the risks and keep your family out of the hospital during the holidays.”
Children are less likely to get seriously ill and die with Covid than older, more vulnerable adults – which explains the current trend in declining hospitalizations and deaths over the past week in the government’s own data.
The number of admissions fell for an eighth day in a row to 722 on Saturday, and the latest date data is available — a drop of more than a third from the more than 1,000 hospital admissions per day recorded a month ago.
Likewise, yesterday’s death toll fell to 149, down a quarter from the previous week and marking the fifth consecutive day the death toll fell.
The ZOE study showed that cases are highest in children under 18, who see more than 30,000 symptomatic infections per day.
In contrast, people 75 and older have the lowest level of disease, with fewer than 1,000 estimated cases in the age group each day.
Covid was most prevalent in Yorkshire and the Humber, where 1 in 56 people were infected daily during the week.
It was followed by the East of England (one in 62) and the West Midlands (one in 63). London had the lowest rate with just 8,813 cases estimated per day in the capital – a rate of one in 81 people.
Botswana’s new strain with 32 ‘horrific’ mutations is the most evolved of Covid’s on record – and experts warn it could be ‘worse than Delta’
British experts have sounded the alarm over a new type of Covid virus believed to have emerged in Botswana and is the most mutated version of the virus to date.
So far, only 10 cases of the strain that can be called “No” have been discovered.
But it has already been spotted in three countries, indicating that the variant is likely to be more widespread.
It carries 32 mutations, many of which indicate that it is highly transmissible and vaccine-resistant, and has more spike protein changes than any other species.
Changes in altitude make it difficult to fight off current punches, as they train the immune system to recognize an older version of this part of the virus.
Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College who first caught the outbreak, described the changing array of mutations as “appalling”.
And he warned that the scientific name, B.1.1.529, was likely “worse than almost anything else” – including the world’s dominant delta strain.
Ministry of Health figures show that England recorded 36,550 cases yesterday and 2,154 people tested positive for the virus in Wales, while 3,080 cases were recorded in Scotland and 1,931 cases were recorded in Northern Ireland.
Across the four countries, 9.9 million infections have been confirmed since the pandemic began last March. But the real number will be several million more, given the limited testing capacity at the start of the Covid crisis and not everyone who catches the virus gets tested.
Case rates are the highest and fastest rising among the younger groups, with 1,090 per 100,000 10- to 14-year-olds testing positive in the seven days to November 19. Infections jumped 30 percent in a week among the age group.
Despite rising case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are still less than half the level recorded at the same time last year.
About 722 Britons with Covid were admitted to hospitals across the UK on Saturday, while 7,874 people with the virus were in NHS care yesterday.
For comparison, 1,552 Covid patients were hospitalized on the same day last year and a total of 17,680 hospitalized.
And 149 deaths were recorded during the past 24 hours, compared to 464 in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, 26,822 first and 22,022 second doses were given across the UK, which means that 50.8 million over 12 years (88.4 per cent) received at least one injection and 46.2 million (80.4 per cent) were fully immunized. .
About 365,152 more Britons have applied for booster doses in the past 24 hours, which means 16 million over 40, frontline workers and people at risk are now three times as high.
The European Union yesterday urged its member states to give everyone aged 18 and over a Covid vaccine to control infections, hospitalizations and deaths this winter.
But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), which is giving advice No. 10 on getting started, has yet to make a decision on triple-hit for all adults, after expanding the list of eligible last week to include everyone over 40.