Daily Cases

Daily Cases Fall 40% as London Returns to Normal

Britain’s daily Covid cases plunged for the 12th day in a row today as the Omicron wave continued to collapse and workers headed back to offices in their largest numbers since it took off. MailOnline has more.

Another 84,429 tests came back positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, according to Government dashboard data, down around 41% on last week. Daily cases have fallen week-on-week since January 6th.

There were also 85 coronavirus deaths registered today in a 10% rise compared to last Monday. Latest hospital data shows there were 2,357 admissions on January 11th, virtually unchanged in a week.

In a sign of public confidence in the promising stats, London’s roads were the busiest they have been during the morning rush-hour since the day Boris Johnson confirmed that England would enter Plan B restrictions.

Congestion data recorded by location services company TomTom found the level in the capital between 8am and 9am this morning was at 69% – the highest it has been for that time period in six weeks since December 8th.

The congestion level represents the extra travel time for drivers on average compared to baseline uncongested conditions – so a 69% level means a 30-minute trip will take 21 minutes more than with no traffic.

Today’s figure was also above the 2019 average of 63% and 2020 average of 49% for 8am on a Monday in London – showing there were more cars on the road in the capital today than before the pandemic. The figure last Monday was 61%, while it was just 2% on Monday, January 3rd but this was a bank holiday.

Worth reading in full.

Daily Covid Cases Fall 45% Week-on-Week

Daily Covid cases fell by nearly 45% in a week today in the biggest drop since Omicron took off — and an expert claimed the U.K. would be the first country in the northern hemisphere to tame the pandemic. MailOnline has more.

There were 120,821 new positive tests logged across the country over the past 24 hours, according to Government dashboard data, down from the pandemic high of 218,000 last Tuesday. It marks the sixth day in a row infections have fallen week-on-week and strongly suggests the fourth wave is subsiding in little over a month.

There is now growing optimism the U.K.’s outbreak will follow a similar trajectory to South Africa’s, where the virus has almost completely fizzled out after becoming the Omicron epicentre in November. …

There are growing calls for No 10 to learn to live with Covid rather than focus on halting the spread of the virus now there is such a big disconnect between infections and deaths. Final restrictions could start to be lifted this month, it was claimed today.

The promising statistics came as Professor David Heymann, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), suggested the U.K. was on the brink of beating the pandemic.

He told an online briefing: “In general, now, the countries we know best in the northern hemisphere have varying stages of the pandemic. And probably, in the U.K., it’s the closest to any country of being out of the pandemic if it isn’t already out of the pandemic and having the disease as endemic as the other four coronaviruses.”

Worth reading in full.

Why Did Sajid Javid Tell Parliament that Daily Covid Infections are 16 Times Higher Than the Latest ONS Estimate?

According to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, there are currently 4,713 confirmed Omicron infections in the U.K. But in his statement to Parliament yesterday he added that the UKHSA has estimated the true current number of new daily Omicron infections to be around 200,000 (I assume in England, though he didn’t say). He added that this represents around 20% of the current estimated daily infections in England, including 44% in London. Note that these UKHSA figures are based on modelling that has not been released to the public.

Separately, the UKHSA has reported that just 10 people so far have been admitted to hospital in England with the Omicron variant (most of whom are double-vaccinated).

On transmissibility, early UKHSA estimates for the household secondary attack rate (the proportion of household contacts an infected person infects) using contact tracing data is 21.6% for Omicron and 10.7% for Delta. This suggests Omicron (incidentally, pronounced with a short ‘O’ as in orange, not a long ‘O’ as in over – omega is the Greek letter that signifies a long O) may be around twice as transmissible as Delta in the current population. However, to put this in context, note that the Alpha direct secondary attack rate in December 2020 was estimated by the UKHSA at 15.5%, while the Omicron estimate is based on a small number of infections and, according to the UKHSA, “may be influenced by improved ascertainment around Omicron cases”. The equivalent figure for “Omicron confirmed, highly probable, probable or possible” is 15.2%. In any case, even on the likely inflated figure of 21.6% it means that only around one in five household contacts of those with Omicron go on to test positive, and the difference in absolute terms between Omicron and earlier variants is only that 5-10% more of a person’s contacts become infected.

New daily reported infections in Gauteng province, South Africa, the original epicentre of Omicron, continue to plateau with no rise for over a week now.

Daily Cases Continue to Fall

Daily Covid infections in Britain have fallen again and deaths are also down, easing the pressure for the Government to implement ‘Plan B’. MailOnline has more.

The Department of Health reported 36,657 new cases in the past 24 hours, down a quarter on the figure last week and the second day in a row there has been a week-on-week drop. Cases had risen for 18 days prior to Sunday.

Many experts predicted that the October half-term – which for many schools began today – would drag infection rates down and act as a miniature ‘firebreaker’.

There were also 38 coronavirus deaths registered today, down around 16% on the toll last Monday. U.K.-wide hospital data isn’t due until tomorrow.

A technical issue means the promising statistics do not include data from Wales, which is recording on average 3,200 daily cases and nine deaths per day. The trajectory of the epidemic is likely to remain unchanged, even with the inclusion of Wales’ infection numbers.

Yet, Sir Keir Starmer became the latest figure to call for the Government to revert to Plan B today and bring back a suite of Covid curbs.

It comes amid an escalating row about how Britain’s epidemic will unfold in the coming months and whether compulsory face masks, working from home and vaccine passports are necessary.

Independent scientists told MailOnline they expect that a combination of the booster vaccine rollout and rising natural immunity in children will lead to a ‘substantial and rapid’ fall in cases, hospitalisations and deaths in weeks.

The topic has also divided No 10’s own scientific advisory panel SAGE, with several key members publicly lobbying for more restrictions to safeguard the NHS from being overwhelmed in the coming months.

But many of the scenarios forecasted by the group’s modelling teams have daily cases plunging over the coming weeks to as low as 5,000, even if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked. The unusually optimistic modelling has given ministers the confidence to reject growing calls for them to revert to Plan B.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Telegraph’s Sarah Knapton has more about the (for once) optimistic modelling in the Telegraph.

The Modellers Keep On Making the Same Errors – And the Implications Are Huge

There follows a guest post from our in-house doctor, formerly a senior medic in the NHS, who draws attention to the errors made repeatedly by the modellers and government advisors and the huge implications of them.

Napoleon Bonaparte remarked that “history is the version of past events that people have decided to agree on”. When the official version of the pandemic is written, I wonder what analysis will be made of the role of statistical modellers and public health experts in driving Government policy over the last 18 months?

To inform this question it may be helpful to examine the recent evidence of how predictions have matched up to real events. For example, on September 8th, SPI-M-O (one of the multitudinous acronym salad bodies advising the Government), produced a paper entitled “Medium-term projections“.

Perhaps mindful of the woeful inaccuracy of previous predictions, the very first sentence heavily caveats the entire document:

These projections are not forecasts or predictions. They represent a scenario in which the trajectory of the epidemic continues to follow the trends that were seen in the data up to September 6th.

If that is the level of confidence the authors of the report have in their own abilities, one rather wonders what value this publication contains – yet this is the level of advice being given to decision-makers.

Firstly, to the “projection” of admissions. The document is in PDF format, so I am unable to reproduce it here, but the graphical representations show a 90% confidence interval fan chart for the period September 12th-28th. Hospital admissions in England are “projected” to be between 600 to 1,200 per day – a fairly wide spread. Graph One shows what actually happened – daily admissions on the blue bars, seven-day moving averages on the brown line.

It is clear that admissions have been consistently below the lower ‘projection’ for the entire period and the seven-day moving average at the end of the month was below 500 admissions per day.

The Dangerous Myth of Health Service ‘Collapse’

In the U.K. we are facing threats once again of restrictions and vaccine passports being imposed over winter should the prospect of an ‘overwhelmed’ NHS be sounded by the Government’s medical advisers in the coming weeks.

But how realistic is this threat of health service ‘collapse’? South Korea is currently providing an object lesson in how the concept appears to be very much in the eye of the beholder.

The South East Asian country has been experiencing a spike in reported infections in recent weeks as the Delta variant has become dominant, hitting over 3,000 in one day for the first time on September 24th.

Covid ‘Cases’ Fall by More than 20% In a Week

Talk has been hotting up over the past week on the introduction of vaccine passports and the vaccination of children, but the figures show that the virus continues to wane, with reported ‘cases’ having fallen by 21% over the past week and the number of deaths after 28 days of a positive test only seeing a slight increase of 30. MailOnline has more.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,547 new cases today, down 21% on the 37,578 recorded last Saturday.

But the number of people dying within 28 days of a positive test is continuing to increase, with 156 people falling victim to the virus. The figure was up 30% on the 120 recorded last week.

Fatalities tend to reflect changes in infection levels at least a week after due to the time it takes for people to become seriously ill.

Britain’s vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward with 89,832 second doses dished out today. It takes the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9 million (80.8%).

Some 25,019 first doses were also dished out, taking the total number of people to receive at least one jab up to 48.4 million (89%).

The figures come amid reports the AstraZeneca jab could be largely withdrawn from U.K.’s vaccine programme as millions of Britons who were given two doses are likely to be offered a Pfizer booster shot.

The booster programme is expected to rely mainly on the Pfizer vaccine under a ‘mix and match’ strategy to top-up immunity.

Worth reading in full.

Nicola Sturgeon Once Again Refuses to Rule Out Further Lockdowns

Not for the first time, Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that Scotland could be plunged into yet another lockdown due to rising ‘cases’, saying that the country is now at a “fragile and potentially pivotal moment”. The National has the story.

Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said the daily case figure [of 4,323 on Tuesday] is “the largest we have ever recorded in a single day”.

She said new cases in Scotland have more than doubled in the past week, making this “one of the sharpest rises we have experienced at any point during the pandemic”.

And she warned Scotland is now at a “fragile and potentially pivotal moment” in the fight against the virus as vaccinations have weakened the link between cases and serious harm but not completely broken it.

“Even with vaccination we can’t be totally relaxed about this surge in cases,” Sturgeon said.

“The link between new cases and serious health harms has weakened significantly but it has not been completely broken.

“That means the rise in cases in the last week may well result in people having to go to hospital in the coming days and perhaps requiring intensive care treatment and unfortunately a rise in cases like… I consider likely to be the case in an increase in the number of people dying. 

“This means that if this surge continues and if it accelerates and if we start to see evidence of a substantial increase in serious illness as as result we cannot completely rule out having to reimpose some restrictions.” …

During the briefing the First Minister said she wanted life in Scotland to remain “normal” and that large scale outdoor events were less a cause for concern than indoor events.

She also suggested schools remaining open would be a priority for her Government. …

She added: “In terms of the restrictions that are still in place with schools [with secondary pupils required to wear face masks in class] we said the basic mitigations would be in place for at least six weeks after the return of schools…

“So we are not yet at the point of formally reviewing… we will keep mitigations in place for as long as we think is necessary to provide protection for young people and staff in schools but for no longer than we judge as necessary.”

Worth reading in full.

Britain’s Daily Covid Cases Fall to a Five-Week Low

The number of new daily Covid cases in the U.K. fell to 21,952 today, the lowest it’s been in five weeks. Meanwhile, deaths are up slightly compared to last Monday and hospitalisations are down. MailOnline has more.

Covid cases are lower today than they have been since June 29th, according to the official figures released today.

But the number of virus tests conducted also fell to their lowest levels since June 26, suggesting there are cases that have not been picked up.

The new figures follow data published on Friday, which suggested cases are still on the rise and as many as one in 65 people in England are currently infected.

Some experts think fewer people are coming forward for Covid tests to avoid isolation.

The figures also signal a slow in the week-on-week drop in infections, with cases dropping by 12% on seven days earlier.

Last Monday, cases had dropped by 37.5% compared to the previous week.

Meanwhile, there were just 24 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid tests were recorded, down from 65 yesterday, but an increase of 71.4% compared to last Monday.

Covid death figures released on Monday often lag, due to a delay in recording deaths over the weekend.

Updated hospitalisation figures for last Tuesday show a further 911 patients were admitted to hospital who tested positive for the virus, a drop of 1.6% compared to one week earlier.

Worth reading in full.

Confusion Over Whether Cases Are Rising or Falling

According to MailOnline, daily Covid cases in the U.K. fell for the ninth consecutive day in a row today.

Britain’s daily covid cases fell again today for the ninth day in a row, amid mounting confusion over true state of the third wave.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,622 cases – down 18.6% on last week.

In another glimmer of hope, hospitalisations (927) and deaths (68) appear to be slowing down – with both measures up just 6% on last Friday.

However, it cannot be true that daily cases have fallen for the ninth day in a row since they stood at below 25,000 on July 26th and now stand at 29,622. It appears that MailOnline means that this is the ninth day in a row in which the daily toll is less than it was exactly one week before.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s Guardian reported that daily cases had gone up for the second day in a row:

The daily number of Covid cases reported in the U.K. has risen for the second day in a row, although experts have cautioned against drawing premature conclusions from the fluctuations.

On Thursday, 31,117 cases were reported in the UK, up from 27,734 the day before, which marked the first rise in cases since July 20th.

To further complicate matters, the ONS published its weekly infection survey today and reported that the percentage of the population testing positive has increased slightly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland compared to the previous week, although it’s fallen in Scotland: