Covid cases in England are 26 times higher than a year ago | Coronavirus
Coronavirus infections in England are now 26 times higher than levels recorded at the same time last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. Scientists have called the figures “sobering”.
They have warned that reopening schools in England this week is likely to trigger further increases in Covid cases – and more will follow when students return to universities and colleges. A new wave of infections could, in turn, lead to the imposition of new social restrictions as winter approaches.
As a result, pressure is mounting on the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization to approve the roll-out of booster vaccines for vulnerable people and the extension of vaccinations to most 12-15 year olds. The latter move would align the UK with the US and most of the major European nations and is supported by most ministers.
Simon Clarke, associate professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, said that during the week ending August 20, the ONS estimated that 756,900 people in England were infected with Covid-19, which equals one in 70 people.
“At this time last year, the ONS estimated that 28,200 people in England were infected. This is the equivalent of one in 1900 people infected with Covid-19. That means community infections are 26 times more common today than they were a year ago, when the population was unvaccinated and the country had been reopening for three months. “
The fact that deaths and hospital admissions from Covid-19 are only a fraction of their levels in August 2020 demonstrates the protective power of vaccines – more than 60% of the British population have had two injections.
“The last time infections were at their current level in England was at the end of January,” said Kevin McConway, professor emeritus of applied statistics at the Open University. “There were then about 2,300 daily hospitalizations and 1,100 deaths per day. In contrast, the most recent daily figures for England are around 770 hospital admissions and around 80 deaths. “
However, the high level of cases across the country still worries scientists. “The growing number of community infections is still translating into a growing number of very sick patients and an unnecessarily high burden on the NHS,” Clarke said. He added that the cooler weather in the fall, resulting in increased social mix indoors, was likely to lead to further increases in the coming weeks.
“The end of the summer vacation and the return of people to work and education, without clear guidelines on physical measures to prevent transmission such as wearing a mask or social distancing, are also likely to increase infection rate. “
This point was supported yesterday by Mike Tildesley, member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modeling (Spi-M) which advises the government. Speaking to Times Radio, he said September would be a key month to monitor Covid-19 and argued that vaccinating younger age groups could provide protection beyond the classroom.
“Schools are no riskier than any other environment where people mix in close proximity to each other. But that’s what happens around schools – when schools are restored, parents tend to go back to work and people mingle in other environments. If we have high levels of immunization in the younger age groups, this should provide both direct and indirect protection. “
Care was also going to be crucial later in the month when universities return, added Professor Linda Bauld, a behavior specialist at the University of Edinburgh. “Universities will have to do three things: provide access to good regular testing; help provide vaccines to students who have not received them; and maintain some forms of mitigation to control the spread of the virus. Hundreds of student courses are online, but all tutorials and seminars are face to face. Wearing face coverings and implementing similar measures could help make college life more manageable this year. “