Daily Cases

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:

Reported Covid Cases Down by More Than a Fifth on Last Thursday in U.K.

Reported Covid cases have fallen by 22% compared to last Thursday and cases are falling in every English local authority. MailOnline has the story.

The Department of Health posted another 31,117 infections spotted in the last 24 hours, down by more than a fifth (22%) on last Thursday.

But hospitalisations rose by nearly a quarter to 932 admissions a day, and another 71 deaths were recorded which was the same as last week. Experts say hospitalisations may fall in the next seven days, and that they lag behind cases because of the time taken for someone who has caught the virus to fall seriously ill.

Separate Public Health England data today added to the promising picture by suggesting Covid cases were now falling in all of England’s 149 local authorities, and every age group except the over-80s.

Their weekly report showed, however, that fewer tests were being carried out which may be behind the drop in cases. But the positivity rate – the proportion of swabs that detected the virus – also fell, suggesting the trend is genuine and not skewed by a lack of swabbing.

But another report from the Covid symptom-study app today suggested Covid cases are not falling as fast as official figures suggest, and may have just plateaued last week.

King’s College London scientists estimated just over 60,000 people were catching the virus every day in the week to July 24th, the latest date available. This was barely a change from the previous week.

Worth reading in full.

Google Mobility Data Suggest That ‘Freedom Day’ Will Not Cause a Rebound in Cases

New daily infections have fallen by 31% over the last seven days, causing some consternation and head-scratching in the epidemiological modelling community.

Neil Ferguson, for example, had claimed only ten days ago that cases reaching 100,000 per day was “almost inevitable”. Yesterday he backtracked, noting that “the equation has fundamentally changed”. (One hopes he was referring to the equations in his model.)

As to why daily infections have been falling, some epidemiologists have said the full effects of ‘Freedom Day’ are yet to appear in the data. ‘Freedom Day’, you will recall, was when some remaining lockdown measures were lifted on the 19th of July.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister told reporters, “Step Four of the opening-up only took place a few days ago, people have got to remain very cautious and that remains the approach of the Government.”

Aside from the fact that ‘Freedom Day’ was nine days ago, and you’d expect any effects to show up by now, there’s another indicator suggesting that a rebound in cases is unlikely – the Google mobility index.

Google publishes regular reports on the level of mobility in most of the world’s countries, based on smartphone data. Looking at the latest U.K. numbers, there is no evidence of any change in behaviour caused by ‘Freedom Day’.

The chart below shows the retail mobility index. (Numbers are percentage changes relative to the baseline; ‘Freedom Day’ is marked with a red line.) As you can see, there was no sudden increase on the 19th of July.

The next chart the residential mobility index. Once again, there was no sudden decrease on the 19th of July. (And the other four sub-indices show the same pattern.)

Of course, the Google mobility index isn’t a perfect guide to behaviour. And given that rapid decreases in case numbers have occurred in the absence of mobility changes, it’s possible that rapid increases could too. Nonetheless, these figures suggest that daily infections aren’t about to rebound, and we don’t need to “remain very cautious”.

Covid Cases Have Fallen Every Day For a Week

Covid cases across the U.K. have fallen for the seventh day in a row, reaching 23,511 on Tuesday. This is the lowest number recorded in a single day in the whole of July. MailOnline has the story.

The Department of Health recorded another 23,511 infections across the U.K. over the past 24 hours, down by half on last Tuesday. This marks the biggest week-on-week fall in cases since they started coming down last week.

There were 131 Covid deaths, which was up by more than a third in seven days and the highest number since mid-March when the second wave was dying down.

Boris Johnson desperately tried to dampen rampant optimism about falling Covid cases today, saying people must not jump to “premature conclusions” and the Government will be “very cautious”.

But his comments came just hours after ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson hinted the U.K. could be looking back at the pandemic in just two months time.

Professor Ferguson suggested the current dip was down to the end of the Euros football tournament and warmer weather allowing people to spend more time outdoors.

He added there would be “uncertainty” into the Autumn, but stressed that the calculations had “fundamentally” shifted because of the vaccines. …

Experts have suggested that high numbers of young people catching the disease during the Euros could have helped to squash the latest peak, as they now have some immunity and otherwise may not have been vaccinated.   

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: SAGE panjandrums have been trotting out excuses for why they got this so wrong. According to MailOnline, the top contenders are:

  • The vaccine roll-out
  • School holidays
  • The end of the Euros
  • Warmer weather
  • The ‘pingdemic’

But, surely, all of these things were completely foreseeable? Why, then, were they not included in the models? And given that the scientific ‘experts’ left all these things out, why should we trust SAGE’s modelling again?