COVID-19 infections in the U.K. have dropped to their lowest level for nearly a year, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics Infection Survey. Prevalence in England appears to be flattening out, but it is rising in Scotland, according to ONS data up to September 5th. ITV News has more.
Some 881,200 people in private households are estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to September 5th, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That’s down 7% on the previous week and is the lowest U.K.-wide total since the week to September 25th 2021, when the number stood at 837,800.
It’s possible the U.K. is starting to see the affect of fresh booster vaccines, which have been offered to vulnerable people.
Recently, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of the World Health Organisation, said the end of the pandemic was “almost” in sight.
However, the downward trend in some parts of the country is uncertain, with increased numbers in Scotland.
It’s unclear why the trend would be due to the spring boosters in over-75s, since it is not restricted to that age group.
However, more up-to-date data from the ZOE Covid symptom study show that in the past two weeks infections in Scotland have already begun falling again, while in England and Wales they are now rising. The ZOE data also show that infections have risen in the over-75s at least as much as among other adults, casting doubt on ITV News‘s suggestion that the boosters are responsible for reducing infections.
The rise at the moment is concentrated largely in children, which is little surprise at the start of the school term.
Scottish children returned to school on August 17th, which presumably explains that country’s recent rise. The fact that infections in Scotland already seem to be falling again suggests that the outbreak may be short-lived, possibly owing to the high levels of natural immunity now present in the population and especially in schoolchildren. The UKHSA doesn’t provide data on antibodies-from-infection in under-17s, but the data for other age groups show that over 80% of 17-29 year olds in England have natural immunity, a percentage that is likely to be higher still in under-17s.
If Covid can’t get going again this autumn, will we see the return of flu as the dominant winter virus? Or is this just a hiatus before the next surge?