Covid-19 cases are “growing exponentially” across England, fueled by younger and mostly unvaccinated age groups, according to scientists tracking the epidemic.
A government-commissioned study found that infections increased 50% between May 3 and June 7, coinciding with the surge in the variant delta coronavirus, which was first discovered in India and now in the UK prevails.
Data from nearly 110,000 swab tests conducted across England between May 20 and June 7 suggest that Covid-19 cases are doubling every 11 days, with the highest prevalence in the Northwest and 1 in 670 Infected.
Research shows that the majority of infections are caused by children between the ages of five and 12 and younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24.
Infections in these age groups are about five times higher compared to those over 65, the researchers said
The data comes when MPs approved the extension of coronavirus restrictions in England to July 19, despite Boris Johnson suffering from a major rebellion from members of his own party because of the delay.
The prime minister was spared defeat when Labor backed plans to postpone a four-week delay to the end of the lockdown to give more time to the vaccine program.
MEPs voted 461 to 60, a majority of 401, in favor of adopting regulations that delay the easing of measures.
The experts at Imperial College London said their results show a “quick switch” between the Alpha variant (Kent), which first appeared in the UK in September 2020, and the Delta variant in recent weeks, with the latter up to 90% of all coronavirus cases.
However, they stressed that the country is in a very different position than it was last fall, when exponential growth sparked a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Stephen Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics at Imperial and one of the study’s authors, said, “Prevalence is increasing exponentially and is being driven by younger years.
He added, “And it seems to double every 11 days.
“That is bad news, of course … but the most important thing to highlight here is that we are in a very different part of the epidemic in the UK and it is very difficult to predict how long the exponential phase will last.”
The scientists said their results from the React study suggest that the imminent expansion of the vaccine program to include people aged 18 and over should “go a long way in reducing the overall growth of the epidemic.”
Study author Paul Elliott, director of the React program and Chair of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial, said, “I think we can take great comfort from looking at the details that it looks like it is a very, very good protection in old age, where practically everyone is double vaccinated.
“And in the younger group under 65, where a much lower proportion have been vaccinated or double-vaccinated, most of the infections occur in the unvaccinated group.
“And the government has made it clear that it will vaccinate all adults by July 19th. I think that will make a huge difference and increase the overall immunity of the population.”
The study, which was published as a pre-print on an online server, shows that the majority of infections are caused by children between the ages of five and 12 and younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24.
Infections in these age groups are about five times higher compared to those over 65, the researchers said.
The data showed that the “weakened association” between infection rates and hospital admissions was “well maintained” for those over 65, while “trends converged under the age of 65”.
Prof. Riley said, “We have seen this re-convergence in the pattern of hospital admissions and deaths to infection, especially in an age group under 65 years of age.
“These patterns are consistent with two doses of vaccine being highly effective.”
Health and Welfare Secretary Matt Hancock said, “These results underscore the stark context in which we made the difficult decision to move step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown.”
On Wednesday, Mr Hancock confirmed that nursing home staff must get coronavirus vaccinations “to protect residents,” adding that it is also being considered to make vaccinations mandatory for people in the NHS.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the latest numbers on Covid cases back up the government’s decision to delay the lifting of restrictions (House of Commons / PA).
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, previously said doctors and nurses have a “professional responsibility” to protect their patients.
As of October, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission registered nursing home in England will be required to receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, subject to parliamentary approval and a 16-week grace period, unless they have a medical dispensation, the Department of Health and Social Welfare said.
The regulation also applies to people who come to care homes for other work, such as craftsmen, hairdressers and beauticians as well as inspectors.
There are exceptions for relatives and friends who visit nursing homes, under the age of 18, emergency services and people who carry out urgent maintenance work, the department said.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has reported that the government will be consulting plans to make it legally impossible for employers to insist that employees visit their workplace unless they can show it is imperative to do so.
The reports were condemned by Labor, which criticized the government for “failing to work again and again” during the pandemic.
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said, “As we are getting out of this crisis, we cannot have unilateral flexibility that allows employers to dictate flexible working conditions to their workers.
“Instead of leaks and briefings, the government must publish its proposals for office workers after July 19, and the starting point must be to strengthen workers’ rights to flexible working hours so that workers are not pressured or pushed back into unsafe jobs.”