Daily Deaths

Boris Johnson Will Impose New Lockdown if Reported Covid Deaths Reach Around 1,000 a Week, According to Government Sources

The Prime Minister is said to have devised a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether he should plunge the country into another lockdown. A Government adviser says Johnson would be minded to impose further restrictions if the reported number of Covid-related deaths in the U.K. over the space of a year looked likely to rise above 50,000 (that’s just under 1,000 a week, or 137 a day). i news has the story.

Downing Street has denied it has set any “acceptable level” of Covid deaths but one adviser, who has been close to the Government since coronavirus struck 18 months ago, told i that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had privately accepted that there would be at least a further 30,000 deaths in the U.K. over the next year, and that the Prime Minister would “only consider imposing further restrictions if that figure looked like it could rise above 50,000”.

The Government’s cost-benefit analysis on Covid measures is believed to set not only the acceptable level of cost to save the life of a Covid patient at up to £30,000, but also how much each life lost costs the U.K. economy.

It is understood the analysis shows that the cost of keeping the annual death rate below 50,000 would outweigh the cost to the U.K. economy of allowing it to rise above this level.

As i revealed earlier this month, the Government has put contingency plans in place should the rate of infection and deaths rise to an “unacceptable level”.

The source said: “The Prime Minister is minded to implement another lockdown or new restrictions only if the figure of annual deaths looks like it’s going to go above 50,000. That means deaths from Covid of 137 a day, or just under 1,000 a week.

“However, it won’t be an immediate reaction. A sustained rate of death of around a 1,000 a week for two or three weeks will, though, lead to discussion on restrictions being reimposed. Unfortunately, prime ministers have to weigh up the cost of saving lives to the impact on the economy. No one wants to talk about that’s how it works.” …

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “There is no set number of acceptable deaths from Covid.”

But one of the Government’s most senior scientific advisers has also suggested the cost of saving lives could be a factor in the strategy.

Worth reading in full.

Increase in Positive Covid Test Results Once Again Not Matched by Increase in Covid Deaths

An increase in the number of recorded positive Covid tests in the past seven days has not been matched by a corresponding increase in the number of recorded Covid deaths – so why aren’t we unlocking on Monday? The MailOnline has the story.

A further 24,885 people tested positive for coronavirus [on Saturday], up from 18,270 last Saturday and the sixth day in a row the daily figure has surged above 20,000.

But the 18 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours marks a drop of 21.7% on the 23 recorded on this day last week.

It is a positive sign that jabs are keeping the number of serious cases small.

The latest data shows there were 358 people admitted to hospital with the virus on June 29th – up 54% on the last week [but starting from a low figure]. 

Despite the rise, current levels are a fraction of the number of people in hospital the last time infections were this high at the end of the second wave. 

Meanwhile, fully-vaccinated Britons are expected to be free to live as normal after coming into contact with a coronavirus sufferer within weeks. …

Dr Bharat Pankhania, a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Communicable Diseases at the University of Exeter’s medical school, said he thought it was “perfectly OK” for people who had received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine to be exempt from quarantine measures.

Dr Pankhania told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The gold standard would be to be cautious even if you have been immunised twice – in other words, fully immunised.

“However, as a measured action going forward I think it is okay and my reasons are as follows: an immunised person is less infectious and furthermore the testing of people who are in quarantine isolating is pretty inaccurate, so balancing both, I think it is perfectly okay.”

Asked whether he thought vaccines had broken the link between infections, hospital admissions and death, Dr Pankhania said: “You are absolutely right in that we are now noticing that while the case numbers have gone up, a proportionate similar rise in the number of hospitalisations and deaths has not occurred and therefore we feel that the vaccines are working and they are working really well at preventing people from entering ICU, ventilators and death.

“Therefore, having uncoupled that, we can start thinking about other uncoupling measures as well, such as no need to quarantine after being fully immunised.”

Worth reading in full.

NERVTAG Member: Stop Publishing Daily Death Data, Ditch Test and Trace, End Self-Isolation, Don’t Vaccinate Kids

Professor Robert Dingwall, consistently the most sensible of the Government’s scientific advisors throughout the pandemic, gave a belter of an interview to Sarah Montague on the World at One earlier. The gist of it is in the headline, but a very kind reader – Stuart Robertson – has transcribed the entire interview for us which we’re republishing below.

SARAH MONTAGUE: Well, Robert Dingwall is Professor of Sociology at Nottingham Trent University. He sits on a number of committees advising the Government on their pandemic response.

ROBERT DINGWALL: What we’re in the process of doing is managing the transition to understanding that Covid as an endemic, respiratory infection is really just like all the other 30 or so respiratory infections that humans have coexisted with forever, and that we shouldn’t be doing anything exceptional in relation to it in September, 2021, that we would not have been doing in September 2019. And that of course means taking on a lot of vested interests, it involves defusing the levels of anxiety and fear that had been generated in the population over the last 15 months or so. And that’s not, neither of those, is a straightforward task.

SM: Okay, so you have said we should stop publishing the daily numbers of cases, hospitalisations, deaths.

RD: Well the daily numbers are increasingly, increasingly meaningless. When we’re dealing with a mild respiratory infection. What is the point of knowing how much of it is there, there is out there. There is some value maybe in in tracking hospitalisations at the moment, but we’re not tracking seriously desperately ill people in the way that we were in January, they’re not progressing through to intensive care in the sorts of numbers that we saw in the spring.

SM: So is Covid now a mild respiratory infection?

RD: In a largely vaccinated population, and that’s a very important qualification. Covid is now really part of the 30 or so respiratory viruses that humans have coexisted with since time immemorial.

SM: In a largely vaccinated population, children, for example, aren’t vaccinated, I mean you have said, given the low risk of Covid for most teenagers, it’s not immoral to think that there may be better protected by natural immunity generated through infection, rather than by asking them to take the possible risk of a vaccine.

RD: Well, indeed I mean there are risks from the infection, there are risks from the vaccine, and the challenges to decide how to weigh those in the balance.

SM: In terms of the way we should be adjusting our lives, if we’re not to treat this any different than for example flu, should people stop being signed up to an app that might ping and tell them to isolate.

RD: Well, it’s very hard to see what are the benefits of that is, again, if the most vulnerable people in the population have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. And if those who are not vaccinated are confined predominantly to groups where the infection is, is a very low risk. What are we achieving by contact tracing, by isolation, by these various associated measures? Why is it relevant to me to know that somebody in my network has been infected, when I have been vaccinated?

SM: So is it time to lift all the restrictions, stop test and trace, stop bubbles in school, and of course, telling people to isolate in pubs and hospitality venues.

RD: Well I think we have to ask very hard questions about what these are now achieving, but we also need to recognise that there are significant commercial interests in prolonging things like test and trace, but from the point of view of public policy, we have to ask, well, we have never thought it was important to do differential diagnosis of schoolchildren with respiratory infections, if they’re not well enough to go to school, they don’t go to school, that’s the sort of equilibrium we need to be moving toward when the school year restarts in the autumn.

SM: Professor Robert Dingwall there.

All Welsh Adults Offered First Dose of Covid Vaccine

All adults in Wales have been offered the first dose of a Covid vaccine. This event has occurred six weeks ahead of schedule, according to the Welsh Government. BBC News has the story.

Data published by Public Health Wales on Monday showed 2,216,031 people have been given a first vaccine dose – 70.3% of the population.

Wales’s vaccine roll-out is ahead of every world nation with a population of more than one million people.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said reaching the milestone before the original July target was “remarkable”.

Wales remains ahead of the other U.K. nations in the total proportion of the population given a first jab.

Clinics are now accelerating second doses amid growing concerns about the spread of the delta variant.

While all those who are most vulnerable to Covid have been offered the vaccine in Wales, and take-up has been high (90% among the over-50s), Baroness Morgan says the country should not become “complacent” about its vaccine roll-out efforts. “We are keen to see 18 to 39 year-olds vaccinated and hope to reach our milestone of 75% take-up in this age group by the end of this month.”

Meanwhile, zero deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were reported in Wales on 10 of the 13 first days of June, yet a range of restrictions remain in place.

The BBC News report is worth reading in full.

Link Between Positive Covid Tests and Covid Deaths Has Been Broken, Says NHS Leader

The vaccine has broken the link between positive Covid tests and Covid deaths, according to the Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, who last week criticised the scientific modelling seen by the Government through much of the pandemic as “crude” and unreliable. Chris says that viewed alone, the raw number of positive tests does not tell the full story: “It is a much younger population that is coming in [for hospital treatment now], they are less clinically vulnerable” and much easier to treat. The MailOnline has the story.

Chris Hopson… said today that the surge in cases and hospital admissions in the Greater Manchester town was manageable for its hospitals.

Patients were generally younger and less sick, he suggested, than in the crippling second wave over the winter, and the numbers of people coming in were lower and significantly fewer of them are dying.

Vaccines appear to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting, Mr Hopson said, adding that they have broken the link between infections and “very high” levels of hospital admissions and deaths in earlier waves of the virus…

Bolton has been overtaken by nearby Blackburn as the country’s Covid hotspot after cases surged there driven by the Indian variant, which accounts for almost all infections in the town. Hospital admissions rose shortly after, to a peak of 49 people on wards with Covid and 14 admitted in a day, but these appear to be falling now, too, with 42 reported in patients on June 1st.

Mr Hopson said: “If – and it is a big if – if Bolton has gone through its complete cycle and if other areas follow Bolton, the view from the hospital there was that they were able to cope with the level of infections.”

His comments come as pressure is building towards Boris Johnson’s speech next Monday when he is expected reveal whether June 21st’s “Freedom Day” end of social distancing will go ahead. Current trends look as though he will prolong lockdown laws for a few more weeks or until the summer holidays to buy more time for vaccinations.

Mr Hopson told Times Radio: “It’s important not to just focus on the raw numbers here… you also do need to look at who’s being admitted into hospital and how clinically vulnerable and what level of acuity [illness] they’ve got.

“What chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they’re seeing what they believe is a significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures.

“So it’s not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it’s actually the level of harm and clinical risk.”

Worth reading in full.

Almost 40% Of Recent Covid Victims Died Primarily of Other Conditions

Reported Covid deaths have been low in recent weeks but the real number of people for whom the virus was a major cause of death is lower still, according to the latest figures which show that almost 40% of recently registered Covid deaths in England and Wales were people who died primarily from another condition. The Telegraph has the story.

Out of 107 Covid deaths registered in the week ending May 21st, just 66 had the virus recorded as the underlying cause of death – 61.7%. 

For the rest of the cases, although coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate it was not a major cause.

It is the lowest number of deaths with Covid as the underlying cause since the week ending March 13th, 2020 – the first week that deaths involving Covid were registered in England and Wales, when just five registrations were listed.

The ONS continues to include those who did not primarily die of Covid in its official statistics, even though the World Health Organisation has issued guidance warning they should not be classified as Covid deaths in official figures.

The data lends support to claims that although cases have been rising in Britain in recent weeks, due largely to the Indian [“Delta”] variant, that is not so far translating into a significant increase in deaths.

On Tuesday, the Government announced the first day without any Covid deaths since before the first lockdown in March last year…

The weekly ONS data show that Covid is now mentioned in only around one in 90 death registrations in England and Wales – the equivalent of just 1.1% of all deaths registered in the week.

It is the lowest proportion since the week ending September 11th, when the figure was 1.0%. At the peak of the second wave, in the week ending January 29th, the figure stood at 45.7%. 

The number of Covid deaths registered in England and Wales in the most recent week, to May 21st, is also the lowest since the week to September 11th.

Worth reading in full.

Zero Daily Deaths Announced In the Whole Of the U.K. for First Time

The U.K. has reported zero deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test for the first time since March 2020 amid calls from Government advisors for lockdown to be extended past June 21st. Sky News has more.

The UK has reported zero daily coronavirus-related deaths for the first time since the pandemic began, but the Health Secretary has warned “we haven’t beaten this virus yet”.

According to the latest government data, 3,165 new COVID-19 cases were also recorded in the latest 24-hour period.

Matt Hancock tweeted that although the “whole country will be so glad there were no COVID-related deaths recorded yesterday… we know we haven’t beaten this virus yet”.

The latest figures come after a bank holiday weekend when the number of deaths and cases can be lower due to reporting lags.

Yet the suffering caused by the lockdowns continues.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A reader has compiled a table showing the total daily tests, the number of cases, the percentage of tests that are positive and the number of Covid deaths recorded in each month dating back to March 2020. As you can see, there’s been a steady decline in the number of deaths since their peak in January 2021.

Zero Deaths Reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Monday

England recorded zero Covid deaths for the fifth time since the Government started collecting figures on Monday. Zero deaths were also recorded in Wales and Northern Ireland, with just one person having died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid in Scotland. Sky News has more.

The one U.K. death is less than the six confirmed yesterday and the three last Monday – while the number of positive cases is up from 3,240 and 2,439 respectively…

Another 120,243 people have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine, taking the total to 39,379,411. And Sunday saw 204,282 second jabs administered, meaning 25,537,133 people have had both shots.

Also today, England’s biggest vaccination centre offered Covid vaccines to anyone over the age of 18, despite the minimum age for eligibility currently being 30.

Thousands of people have already been vaccinated at the centre at Twickenham Stadium in west London.

Government guidelines say only people over the age of 30 are eligible for the jab but medics offered it to all adults in an effort to ensure nothing is wasted.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Given this, why must we wait three more weeks (if not longer) for lockdown to finally comes to an end, asks Sacha Lord.

Stop Press 2: Despite this positive news, ITV News decides to lead its coverage of Monday’s figures with: “Concerns over Indian variant grow.”

25 Million Brits Fully Vaccinated Against Covid – and Just Six Deaths Are Recorded on Sunday

The U.K. has passed the milestone of fully vaccinating 25 million adults against Covid, with the figure for first doses nearing 40 million. Also on Sunday, the slight increase in positive Covid tests has been offset (yet again) by the low number of reported deaths (just six).

Despite all this, uncertainty remains about whether the country will unlock on June 21st. Sky News has more.

Another 3,240 coronavirus cases were recorded [on Sunday] and the latest statistics showed 39,259,168 people have had a first dose of a Covid vaccine.

A total of 25,332,851 have had two jabs.

The latest coronavirus R (reproduction) number is estimated to be between 1.0 and 1.1 – up from between 0.9 and 1.1 last week.

This means that, on average, every 10 people infected with Covid will infect between 10 and 11 other people.

The Government is now considering making Covid vaccinations compulsory for NHS workers, while an expert has warned there still remains “an awful lot of uncertainty” over whether England can proceed with its planned relaxation of Covid restrictions on June 21st.

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) Government advisory panel, was asked on LBC if the country was on track to reopen by that date.

He said: “I think at the moment there’s quite a lot of uncertainty around that.

“We are starting to see signs of course that cases are going up, but at the moment we’re still obviously reporting hospital admissions and deaths at very low levels.”

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says that no final decision will be made (or, at least, announced) on the fourth and final step of the roadmap out of lockdown until June 14th.

The Sky News report is worth reading in full.

Positive Tests Pass 4,000 for the First Time Since April – but Covid Deaths Stay Flat

There was another rise in positive tests today, which passed 4,000 for the first time since April, but reported Covid deaths remained flat with just 10 victims. The MailOnline has the story.

Department of Health bosses posted another 4,182 positive tests, up by almost half on last Friday’s count. It is the most reported in a single day for nearly eight weeks, since the 4,479 on April 1st. Almost 75% of all new cases are now the Indian variant.

Ministers always expected cases to increase when restrictions were eased, and they believe vaccines will stop the NHS from being overwhelmed once again. 

But Number 10 has refused to rule out delaying plans to relax lockdown on June 21st and will have to hit the panic button if hospitals start to suffer spiralling admissions, or the mutant strain is found to be much more infectious than the Kent variant, which triggered the devastating second wave.

Cautious scientists have called for Number 10 to delay the final step on the roadmap back to normality for at least two months, giving the NHS more time to fully vaccinate millions more adults. Analysis suggests a single dose of the jab is only around 33% effective at blocking symptoms of Covid in patients infected with the Indian variant, compared to about 50% for the once-dominant Kent strain.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said there was “a good argument for caution until such time as we’ve got a much higher proportion of the population double-vaccinated”.

Admissions have started to creep up across Britain, rising by 30% in a week to 134. Figures will get even higher over the next few weeks because of the lag between getting infected and becoming severely ill.

But hospital bosses in the worst-hit towns insist jabs have changed the game, with barely any infected patients who need medical care having been fully vaccinated.

The Health Secretary appears to agree with Professor Hayward that the vaccination of millions of Brits (including the most vulnerable) is not enough, having said on Thursday: “Our vaccination programme has reached 73% of the adult population, but that means that more than a quarter still haven’t been jabbed. 43% of adults have had both jabs, but that means that more than half are yet to get the fullest possible protection that two jabs give.” A number of SAGE members have joined (or, in fact, are leading) the calls for lockdown to be extended because of the Indian variant, despite the increase in positive Covid tests still not being matched by an increase in deaths.

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.