Britain’s daily Covid cases spiked 68 per cent in a week today to 27,989, but deaths caused by the disease rose just five per cent after 22 more victims were recorded.
Hospitalisations remained flat after another 259 admissions were registered on June 27, the latest available, a rise of 27 per cent in seven days but far below the more than 2,000 admissions from the last time the country was detecting more than 20,000 cases a day.
Boris Johnson heaped praise on the vaccines today, saying it was ‘ever clearer’ they had ‘broken the link’ between surging cases and deaths.
The Prime Minister said the country was now in the ‘final furlong’ towards the end of lockdown on July 19 ‘Freedom Day’, as ministers become increasingly bullish that restrictions will be lifted as planned.
It comes as separate data from Public Health England showed infections among young people are now 15 times higher than in the over-60s, who have all been offered at least two doses of the vaccine. Among under-30s the infection 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.
She warned they were rising across the country but tended to be more concentrated in younger age groups, which tend not to experience as severe illness or require hospital treatment.
Top scientists say a spike in infections was inevitable this month because of the rapid spread of the Indian variant, coupled with the easing of lockdown restrictions, Euro 2020 and a boom in staycations.
Professor Tim Spector, who leads Britain’s biggest Covid surveillance study, warned fans meeting to watch the tournament would almost certainly be fuelling a surge in infections.
The King’s College London epidemiologist said his study suggested vaccinated people who caught Covid were suffering symptoms similar to a bad cold, as he urged Health chiefs to expand their Covid symptoms list.
More than 44.8million Britons — or 85.2 per cent of adults — have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 33million people — or 62.7 per cent — have got both doses.
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 have risen by almost a third in a week after estimating there were 25,210 new infections were being recorded every day;
- No10 today scrapped its weekly Indian Covid variant update now that the strain makes up almost all new cases detected across the country amid calls for the daily stats to be ditched too;
- Two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine slashed the risk of death by 94 per cent in over-65s, PHE analysis found;
- Ryanair offers £5 flights to ‘amber’ Athens and Lizbon, and ‘green’ package deals to Malta go on sale for £399 while family breaks in France and Spain are priced at as little as £250 per person;
- Fully-vaccinated Britons could be able to travel quarantine free to amber list countries from ‘the first week of the school holidays on July 26’, according to reports;
- Boris Johnson prepares for showdown talks at Chequers with Angela Merkel over travel rules tomorrow.
Speaking on a visit to a Nissan car factory in Sunderland, Mr Johnson said statistics are demonstrating the effectiveness of the vaccines.
He 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. But Cabinet ministers shot down the calls today, insisting that if they stopped published them it would suggest they had something to hide.
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
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.’
Infection rates rose in all regions of the country. The surge in cases sped up in all areas other than the South West. Case rates per 100,000 were highest in the North East at 346.4 and lowest in the East of England (87.8).
It comes after separate data from the King’s College London‘s ZOE 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.
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 called on Britons to remain ‘extra vigilant’ and continue to follow measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing to limit the spread of 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.
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.
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.
But hospitalisations and deaths are still flat with just one in 100 NHS beds in England occupied by virus patients compared to one in six at the start of the second wave in December.