ZOE Covid Study App

Positive Covid Tests Drop Week-on-Week for 10th Day in a Row

Positive Covid tests fell again today, both compared to yesterday and compared to last Saturday, making it the tenth day in a row reported infections have dropped week-on-week. MailOnline has more.

Covid cases have fallen week-on-week for the tenth day in a row, in another sign of hope as the pandemic appears to be shrinking — but experts warn the drop off could be down to less [sic] people getting tests.  

Department of Health bosses posted 26,144 infections today, down 17.8% on last Saturday’s figure of 31,795.

And the number of people dying with the virus has fallen to 71. The number of victims decreased 17.4% from 86 last Saturday.

The baffled Government scientists, whose gloomy predictions continue not to materialise, have now come up with another reason why positive test reports might be dropping: people are avoiding being tested because they don’t want to self-isolate.

I suppose some will be, with holidays approaching. But the ONS breakdown by age also suggests there’s a difference in the infection rate between people under 16 and over 16, with the latter having peaked while the former had not as of July 24th. That in itself is a bit confusing, as children under 16 don’t live on their own, but it does suggest that some of the drop in positive tests reported by PHE might be because parents have stopped testing their children.

Infections in the Vaccinated Overtake Those in the Unvaccinated For the First Time – But the Graph is Removed From the ZOE App Report

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, despite being vaccinated – and he is far from alone. The latest ZOE data shows that, as of July 12th, infections in the vaccinated (with at least one dose) in the U.K. now outnumber those in the unvaccinated for the first time, as the former continue to surge while the latter plummet (see above). (Note that 68% of the population has had at least one vaccine dose, so there are still at this stage disproportionately more new infections in the unvaccinated, though on current trends that may soon change.)

At what point will the Government accept that these vaccines have limited efficacy in preventing infection and transmission, and thus the whole rationale of being vaccinated to protect others – vaccine passports, compulsory vaccination, and so on – is suspect?

The above graph was in yesterday’s report, so I downloaded today’s report (you can get it by signing up to the app and reporting your symptoms) to get the new update. I was dismayed to find the graph was gone. At the bottom, a note explains:

Removed incidence graph by vaccination status from the report as there are very few unvaccinated users in the infection survey, the Confidence Intervals are very wide and the trend for unvaccinated people is no longer representative.

Which I would say is very convenient, just as infections in the vaccinated became the majority. Perhaps ZOE should try to recruit some more unvaccinated people for its survey, so it can continue to report on this as well as have a control group for its vaccine data? That would seem the scientific thing to do, rather than just stop reporting it because it is suddenly “no longer representative”.

It’s doubly odd because Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE app, made the decline among the unvaccinated a feature of his video this week. So the realisation that the trend is “no longer representative” appears to have been rather sudden, even invalidating the contents of a ZOE ‘data release‘ two days earlier.

It seems we will never know how the story ends, which is a shame and a missed opportunity for ZOE.

Infections are Peaking Nationwide as They Fall in the Unvaccinated, Says Professor Tim Spector

Reported positive Covid tests hit a new recent high yesterday of 48,553, confirming for many that their fears of a big exit wave are coming to pass.

However, Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, had another message: according to his data, infections are already peaking.

ZOE data for July 11th (data from the app is always four days behind) showed 32,920 symptomatic infections in the U.K., and this appears to have peaked (R is currently estimated to be around 1) and may already be starting to drop (see above).

Why is this so different to the new daily ‘cases’ reported by the Government, which show no obvious sign of peaking?

Infections Decline in the Unvaccinated as They Surge in the Vaccinated – Demolishing the Argument for Vaccinating Children and Young People

I reported last week on the striking fact that, according to data from the ZOE Covid Symptom study, new symptomatic daily infections appeared to be plateauing in the unvaccinated while they were surging in the vaccinated. The trend has continued since then, with infections now entering decline in the unvaccinated while those in the vaccinated (with at least one dose) continue to surge (see graph above).

Around 67% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, so the fact that there are still more infections in the smaller unvaccinated group means no conclusion can be drawn from the current figures about the vaccines not being effective. Also, while more people are being vaccinated all the time, that steady trend is nowhere near large enough to account for the sharp changes in infection incidence we see here.

With infections in the unvaccinated already peaking and falling, despite the Delta variant, this drives a coach and horses through arguments for the supposed importance of vaccinating children and hesitant young people – including through inducements like vaccine passports for pubs, clubs and restaurants, now being mooted for the autumn.

Why the vaccinated are having their Delta surge later than the unvaccinated is an interesting question. Is it because the vaccines make them more resistant to infection? Does the age difference help explain it? Or is it something else?

Whatever the explanation, the important point is that without any new restrictions or a big new vaccine push, infections in the unvaccinated are already falling. In the current climate of pushes to extend restrictions, delay ‘Freedom Day’, and vaccinate everyone whether they want it or not, this is hugely significant. It means all those arguments to continue restrictions and pile on the pressure for vaccination because of the Delta variant are complete nonsense.

That new daily infections are still rising in the population as a whole is now because they are rising among the vaccinated, not the unvaccinated. They will likely peak soon in the vaccinated, too, just as they already have in Scotland.

New daily positive cases in Scotland (HMG)

It seems that Delta has done its strange summer thing and will soon exhaust itself like the variants before it.

When it does, is there any chance we can stop panicking every time this not-very-deadly virus has a little variant-driven ripple and go back to living as free people again?

Infections Surge Among the Vaccinated While Those in the Unvaccinated Plateau, Data Shows

One of the few places that publishes daily information on the infection rate in vaccinated and unvaccinated people is the ZOE Covid Symptom study. Above is today’s estimate for the U.K., based on the data submitted by users through the ZOE app, and it shows something very striking. While the infection rate in vaccinated people has been trending well below that in the unvaccinated for months, in the last two weeks the rate in the vaccinated has surged while that in the unvaccinated has plateaued.

We don’t know what is causing this. The vaccinated group is older than the unvaccinated group, which will skew its infection rate lower as older age groups have a lower infection rate anyway (see below). The currently slowing growth in the younger age groups and the increasing growth in the older, more vaccinated age groups is likely to be a reflection of the same underlying infection patterns as those in the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.

Chris Whitty Warns of Summer AND Winter Waves as Neil Ferguson Raises Prospect of New Lockdowns – But Data Show the Third Ripple is Already Peaking

The doom-mongers of SAGE were out in force again yesterday, building on their recent victory in Downing Street to keep stoking the fear. The Independent brings us the latest wisdom from Imperial College’s Professor Neil Ferguson.

The third wave of COVID-19 cases in the UK has already began, according to Government advisers – who said it was possible strict lockdown curbs would have to reintroduced at some point this year.

It comes as a new study commissioned by the Government found Covid infections have increased 50% since the start of May – as the country struggles to combat the rise of the highly-transmissible Delta variant first detected in India.

“We’re at the beginning of [the third wave] now,” said Professor Neil Ferguson, the Imperial epidemiologist dubbed “Professor Lockdown” by the tabloid press.

Ferguson told a media briefing that his latest modelling predicts between 100 and 1,200 deaths a day at the peak of the summer “third wave”, before raising the possibility that restrictions may need to be introduced.

I’m very much hoping we won’t need to reverse course [on the easing of restrictions] – and I suspect we won’t. We will inevitably see cases and hospitalisations rise. But the key is [how] manageable the level is.

ZOE Data Shows Vaccines Cut Hospitalisation Risk by 64% once Infected, but Data on Frail Elderly is Less Positive

Professor Tim Spector, who leads the ZOE Covid Symptom Study, has done a new video update on vaccines, which is worth a watch. The team has also published a new study (not yet peer-reviewed) about the vaccines and their effect on symptomatic Covid.

The data is broadly encouraging in terms of efficacy. (They don’t address safety, though a previous study did. They also exclude the period immediately after each vaccine dose, so the study tells us nothing about any post-jab spike in infections, which is disappointing.)

One interesting finding is that sneezing becomes more common as a symptom of Covid infection after vaccination than beforehand, which the authors suggest could be a result of our immune system reaction changing. They note this could make the disease more infectious owing to the additional aerosols produced.

A concerning finding was that the elderly (over-60s) were up to three (2.78) times more likely to be infected after being vaccinated (with one dose of any vaccine) if they were frail than if they weren’t. This is unsurprising perhaps, but still indicative of considerably lower protection for those already at higher risk from the disease. Furthermore, a quarter of the vaccinated frail elderly in the study who contracted the virus ended up in hospital, which is not a small proportion (though no figure was given for the hospitalisation rate of unvaccinated frail elderly people against which to compare it).

Vaccine efficacy was also reduced in the obese, another high risk group, and those with an unhealthy diet – see charts below. The baselines are people who are also vaccinated and otherwise similar, but without the particular characteristic mentioned, e.g. the point in the top right shows the additional risk of infection that the vaccinated frail elderly have versus the vaccinated non-frail elderly.

Britons Catching Covid after Being Vaccinated Get Milder Symptoms

According to the data gathered by the ZOE Covid Study app based at King’s College London, Britons catching coronavirus post-vaccination get a milder form of the disease. Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph‘s Science Editor, has more.

The team at King’s said as the number of people being vaccinated increased, those reporting an infection after the jab was rising, but the symptoms had changed.

Prof Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app, and professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s, said: “Whereas in the past about half of people had classic symptoms in the first week, less than a third do now, if they’ve had a vaccination.

“And so you’re gonna get less symptoms, they’ll be less severe, they won’t be classic, so do keep an open mind and do get a test when we ask you to, that way we’ll keep a close eye on it, and make sure that even if mild, you’re not going to pass it on to other people.

“The importance of our survey is getting even greater because the disease is shifting. The fact that we haven’t relied on those three symptoms like official government ones allows us much more breadth to find out what’s really going on, and whether not only the new various [sic] might be causing different symptoms.”

A third of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, latest figures have shown. A total of 17,669,379 people have received both jabs, the equivalent of 33.5 per cent of all people aged 18 and over.

Meanwhile, 35,371,669 people in the UK have now received a first dose of vaccine, the equivalent of 67.2 per cent of the adult population.

King’s estimates the current risk of a Covid-19 infection for the unvaccinated is one in 46,855, falling to 1 in 97,616 after the first dose, and 1 in 167,341 after the second dose.

Time to reopen Boris?

Worth reading in full.