Number of Britons falling ill with Covid every day falls 5% in a week

Number of Britons falling ill with Covid every day falls 5% in a week but cases remain ‘stubbornly high’ at 44,000, symptom-tracking study claims

  • Nearly 44,000 new daily symptomatic cases in UK on average by August 14, King’s College London estimates
  • Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist behind the symptom study, said infections were still ‘stubbornly high’
  • Data from NHS Test and Trace found exact opposite, noting 6% rise in Covid infections in week up to August 11

The number of people falling ill with Covid across Britain has fallen slightly in the past week, according to the country’s major symptom-tracking study. 

There were nearly 44,000 new daily symptomatic cases of the virus in the UK on average by August 14, King’s College London estimates, which was down about 5 per cent on the previous week.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist and lead scientist on the study, said cases were still ‘stubbornly high’ and warned of a further spike when schools go back next month. 

Data from the NHS Test and Trace found the opposite trend, noting a 6 per cent rise in Covid infections in the week to August 11 in England.

This is more in line with the national picture. The Government’s Covid dashboard shows there are about 30,000 new positive tests every day across the UK currently.

Infections have remained stubbornly high – helped by the ultra-infectious Delta variant blunting vaccines’ effect on transmission – but hospital admissions and deaths remain low thanks to the rollout.

However, the number of people ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app was down nearly a fifth by the same date, making the current situation less clear.

A total of 261,453 alerts were sent to users in England and Wales in the week to August 11 telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus, an 18 per cent week-on-week fall. 

It’s unclear how much of this fall is the result of people deleting the app, which has been mired in controversy. 

There were nearly 44,000 new daily symptomatic cases of the virus in the UK on average by August 14, King’s College London estimates, which was down about 5 per cent on the previous week

Data from the NHS Test and Trace found almost the exact opposite trend, noting a 6 per cent rise in Covid infections in the past week with about 190,000 in the week to August 11 in England

In the week to August 11, there were 753,791 people isolating in England. Broken down 255,474 were isolating after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS app, 307,809 were contacted by NHS Test and Trace and 190,508 were the result of a positive test

The symptom-tracking study relies on people self-reporting Covid symptoms, which some experts argue is becoming a less reliable method now that the Delta strain has become dominant.

Unlike earlier versions of the virus, the variant causes illness similar to other respiratory infections, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish. 

Professor Spector said: ‘Daily cases of COVID remain stubbornly high but it’s reassuring to see that unlike in previous waves, these rates aren’t yet translating into high numbers of hospitalisations and deaths. However, seeing what is happening with increasing deaths in Israel we need to be vigilant. 

‘Whilst vaccines have helped to reduce the severity of the disease, this stalling in cases suggests that we’re starting to see the protection provided by vaccines waning, meaning more fully vaccinated people could be infected in the future.

‘With children in Scotland heading back to the classrooms this week, and cases starting to rise again there, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the numbers. As in the past, steep rises in cases have been closely associated with the return to school. 

‘Now many more young people have been infected by COVID-19. We’re hoping this immunity will lead to a lower spike in cases following the summer holidays than in the past. If there is another big wave of infections, it will raise the hotly debated topic of whether we vaccinate more children to try and achieve herd immunity or re-vaccinate older adults whose immunity is waning.’

King’s College London estimated more than 13,000 of the daily symptomatic cases were among fully vaccinated people. The proportion of jabbed people getting Covid will continue to rise as more of the country gets vaccinated.

This is because the vaccines are not perfect and some people still catch the virus. A smaller number fall ill and need hospital care and a tiny proportion die.

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