Data Not Dates

“Great Hope” We Could Unlock on July 5th, Says Vaccine Expert – But Will Boris Follow the Data?

When delaying the easing of lockdown restrictions in England last Monday, the Prime Minister signalled that the extension was far more likely to last for four weeks (at least) than two. But Brendan Wren, Professor of Vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the data shows there is “great hope” that “Freedom Day” could occur on July 5th rather than a fortnight later.

He pins this hope to the successful vaccine roll-out, noting also that mass testing probably gives a false impression of the number of actual Covid carriers in the country – and, of course, of the number of people in hospital because of the virus. Sky News has more.

[Professor] Wren… said that having more than 81% of the adult population with a first coronavirus jab, and 59% with both doses is “very encouraging”.

Asked whether the success of the vaccine programme means England will not need to wait until July 19th to fully open up, he said: “We’d still need to be vigilant – but vigilance and vaccination are the two words.

“So, I think if the numbers continue to be promising then I think there’s great hope we could open up on July 5th.” …

Official figures show the U.K. has recorded more than 10,000 daily Covid cases for three consecutive days.

But Professor Wren explained that the rise in cases seems to be “flattening off”, saying: “If you are testing and tracing more, then you are going to find more cases… but if you look at the population as a general cross-section, then the actual numbers proportion-wise might be less.”

The expert said the number of people in hospital with Covid and “certainly the severe cases” have “not crept up in line” with the number of infections.

“There’s clear evidence here that the vaccinations certainly in the older populations are working,” he added.

“Although the number of cases may increase, the number of hospitalisations, or deaths, or expected deaths, is not increasing in line with the previous waves.”

And asked whether the U.K. is experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, Professor Wren said: “I don’t think particularly. We expected that there would be an increase as we gradually opened up but I wouldn’t call this a third wave.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Others, including those who are closer to the Government, are more pessimistic. SAGE member Professor Calum Semple says we should expect a fourth wave in the winter due to the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Stop Press 2: A reader spotted a good letter in the Sunday Telegraph.

SIR – What is going on?

On June 23 last year the average number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the previous week was 59, with 353 hospital admissions. On that day the Government announced that restrictions on our freedoms would be eased on July 4.

This year the average number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the first week of June was seven, with 144 hospital admissions.

In contrast to last year, those at high risk have been vaccinated. Yet at the beginning of the week, the Government announced its intention to continue restricting our freedom for at least another five weeks.

Where is the logic? Will restrictions ever end? This disease is endemic. We should stop testing asymptomatic people, accept that “zero Covid” is not achievable and get on with our lives.

Dr Geoffrey Maidment
Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire

Cases Halve in a Month; R Rate Falls; Fewer Than 1,000 Covid Patients

More good news today – if only Boris was paying attention to data, not dates. MailOnline has the rundown.

England’s coronavirus cases have halved in a month, the R rate is still below one, and the number of people in hospital has dropped below 1,000 for the first time since September, promising data revealed today.

Just 46,000 people had coronavirus in England on any given day last week, or one in 1,180 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The figure was around 112,000 towards the start of April – and is down 15% last Friday’s estimate.

No 10’s top scientists said the reproduction rate – which tracks the spread of the virus – was between 0.8 and 1.0, meaning the outbreak is still shrinking. This was down from 0.8 to 1.1 in the previous seven-day period.

Meanwhile, NHS figures show the number of infected patients in hospitals across England has dropped into three figures for the first time since the second wave spiralled out of control nine months ago. Daily admissions are now below 100.

The data follows on from promising statistics from Public Health England and a symptom-tracking app yesterday, which showed the easing of restrictions on April 12th has not triggered any spike in the disease.

Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to speed up his roadmap out of lockdown, with businesses and MPs warning that they risk suffering another lost summer if there are further delays. But the Prime Minister has refused to budge from plans to re-allow holidays and indoor hospitality from May 17th, despite promising he would be led by “data not dates”.

Come on BoJo. What are you waiting for? Reward the electorate for delivering yet another hammer blow to the Labour Party and set them free.

Worth reading in full.

PHE Figures Show Cases Down in Every Region and Fewer Over-80s Catching Virus Than Ever – So Why Seven More Weeks of Restrictions?

Cases are down in every region of England and fewer over-80s are catching the virus than ever before, according to the latest figures from PHE. So why are restrictions not being lifted for another seven weeks? What happened to data not dates? MailOnline has more.

Public Health England’s weekly Covid report found just 6.3 per 100,000 people in the most vulnerable age group caught the disease in the week ending April 25th, the lowest since surveillance data began last June. The infection rate among over-80s peaked at 623 in mid-January.

For over-60s, the rate was 9.1, down from 9.9 the week before and a high of 454 at the peak of the second wave. Both lockdown restrictions and vaccines — which were given to the elderly first — have helped turn the tide on the crisis.

Every English region also saw falls in cases in the past week — despite millions more tests being deployed — with the lowest rates recorded in the South West (14.2), South East (17.2) and the East of England (20.5).

Meanwhile, the Department of Health’s daily update revealed there were 2,445 cases in the past 24 hours and 22 deaths, with infections down 10% from a week ago and deaths up slightly on the 18th last Thursday.

Latest figures show another 462,000 second and 134,000 first vaccine doses were dished out on Tuesday. It means more than 34 million Britons have had at least one dose and 14 million have been fully vaccinated.

Experts said the UK was moving out of the Covid pandemic and into a situation that was much more manageable after separate figures showed the number of people falling ill across Britain is also at a record low.

But despite a plethora of evidence showing the virus is firmly in retreat, England faces at least seven more weeks of restrictions. June 21st has been earmarked as the earliest possible date that most curbs can be lifted.

Worth reading in full.