Daily Covid cases continue to rise with today’s 42,484 infections up 14% in a week
Covid cases continued to rise across the UK today but deaths and hospital admissions fell, as the country’s epidemic becomes increasingly unpredictable.
Some 42,484 infections were recorded in the last 24 hours, up 14.1 per cent on the 37,243 positive tests registered last Tuesday.
Cases have been trending upwards for the past fortnight after schools went back from the half-term break at the start of the month.
Infections are concentrated among children and teenagers, where rates are rising the fastest. But in an early sign of the booster effect, cases are falling among all over-60s.
Meanwhile, hospitalisations fell by 12.9 per cent week-on-week, with 826 infected-Britons seeking NHS care on Thursday, the latest date figures are available for.
And daily Covid fatalities fell 22.9 per cent on last week, with 165 people dying within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
Both measurements lag two to three weeks behind the trend in cases due to a delay between a person catching Covid and becoming severely unwell.
The disparity between cases and deaths and hospitalisations comes as a new subvariant of Delta — that is milder than its ancestor — continues to grow in prevalence in the UK.
Meanwhile, the boss of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca today said the UK’s use of the vaccine may have allowed the country to dodge the current wave of high intensive care rates sweeping through most major EU nations.
Department of Health figures show England recorded 36,550 cases in the last 24 hours and 1,931 people tested positive in Wales, while 2,527 infections were registered in Scotland and 1,476 were recorded in Northern Ireland.
Across the four nations, 9.9million infections have been confirmed since the pandemic began last March. But the real number will be many millions more, due to the limited testing capacity at the start of the Covid crisis and not everyone who catches the virus getting tested.
Meanwhile, Pascal Soriot, chief executive at AstraZeneca, said the decision by most major EU nations to restrict use of the AstraZeneca jab earlier in the year could explain why Britain’s neighbours are now starting to record higher intensive care rates despite having similar case numbers to the UK.
Mr Soriot, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘When you look at the UK there was a big peak of infections but not so many hospitalisations relative to Europe. In the UK this vaccine was used to vaccinate older people whereas in Europe initially people thought the vaccine doesn’t work in older people.’
Mr Soriot added: ‘T-cells do matter…it matters to the durability of the response especially in older people, and this vaccine has been shown to stimulate T-cells to a higher degree in older people,’ he said.
‘We haven’t seen many hospitalisations in the UK, a lot of infections for sure…but what matters is are you severely ill or not.’
The scientific community had a mixed reaction to Mr Soriot’s comments today, largely agreeing with his comments on the AstraZeneca jab’s ability to generate a T-cell response but also highlighting that much more research needs to be done what that means in terms of its effectiveness.