Covid-19 patient numbers and deaths in the UK remain “persistently high” with “a lot of Covid,” experts warned – but getting unvaccinated adults to accept the vaccination could help flatten the third wave of the virus before winter.
Roughly one in ten people aged 16 and over has still not received a Covid-19 vaccination, with estimates ranging from 8% in Scotland to 12% in Northern Ireland, official figures show.
The third wave of coronavirus began in the UK in late May, fueled by the more easily transmissible Delta variant of the virus and the easing of lockdown restrictions across the country.
Both the number of infections and the number of new cases have skyrocketed in recent months, but although patient numbers and deaths have also increased, neither has yet reached the levels recorded at the height of the second wave last winter.
The number of new cases of Covid-19 registered daily in the UK averaged between 30,000 and 40,000 over the past month and has not fallen below 25,000 a day since the beginning of July.
However, at the peak of the second wave in January, cases averaged more than 61,000 per day.
The rate of new cases in the UK is currently 357.5 per 100,000, up slightly from 312.9 week-on-week – but this masks different trends across the country.
All regions of England are currently reporting an increase in the number of cases, while Wales has hit a record high in the past few days, according to an analysis by the PA news agency.
In contrast, interest rates for Scotland and Northern Ireland are now falling, having peaked at or near record levels in recent weeks.
Although every British nation has experienced a slightly different “form” of the third wave, “the latest figures show that there is still a lot of Covid going on,” said Dr. Simon Clarke, Associate Professor of Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading.
“We’ve moved at a similar rate over the past few weeks, with infections currently being driven by secondary school-age children.”
In the data on the infection rates of 20 to 29 year olds, however, there is “good news”.
“A few months ago, this age group pushed transmission rates up,” said Dr. Clarke. “Now they have one of the lowest rates of any age group, similar to retirees. This is likely due to the success of the vaccination, which reduces infections in this age group who is increasingly protected. “
– patients and deaths
Vaccines have also played a key role in keeping the number of Covid-19 patients and deaths during the third wave below the levels of the second wave.
So far, the number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 in the third wave has never risen higher than about a fifth of the level reached at the height of the second wave.
As of September 29, the last known date, 6,853 patients were in the hospital.
This is a decrease from 8,467 on September 13, well below the second wave high of 39,254 hit on January 18.
Even in Scotland, where record numbers of new coronavirus cases were recorded daily during the third wave, patient numbers never exceeded that of the second wave.
Vaccines have been shown to reduce the number of people whose Covid-19 symptoms are severe enough to require hospital treatment.
In England alone, the introduction of the vaccine has prevented 261,500 hospitalizations of people aged 45 and over, according to estimates by Public Health England.
But even if patient numbers have fallen slightly in recent weeks, they are still at a “persistently high” level and, according to Mark Woolhouse, “have to drop significantly before the pressure on the NHS builds up in winter”. Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 deaths last month averaged more than 100 per day, although it was also well below the second wave.
In September, a total of 4,127 deaths were reported of people who died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, compared with 2,883 in August, 1,478 in July, and just 358 in June.
At the height of the second wave in January, more than 1,000 deaths were reported daily – and again, it is the vaccine introduction that has helped prevent such numbers from recurring in the third wave, with an estimated 127,500 deaths prevented in England so far.
“Although only a small minority of adults remain unvaccinated, they are severely overrepresented in hospital cases and deaths,” Professor Woolhouse told the PA news agency.
“The most obvious and direct way to reduce both the risk to individuals and the burden on the NHS as a whole is to make a concerted effort to encourage vaccination against unvaccinated adults. It is worrying that vaccination coverage in the UK is now below that of some other European countries. “
The UK has provided both doses of vaccine to almost 67% of the total population, behind Belgium (72%), Ireland (73%), Spain (78%) and Portugal (85%).
Professor Woolhouse said the vaccination program continues to have a significant impact on the rate of coronavirus transmission, citing the example of Scotland, which is now seeing a steady decline in cases, the “first time there has been a sustained decline in the absence”. a lockdown “and which is” compatible with the effects of herd immunity “.
One way to bring transfer rates down even faster, however, is to increase the use of home testing, he added.
“Around a quarter of cases are now detected first through home testing, which shows both that it is working and that there is the potential to do more. Vaccinations and regular tests are the most important tools that enable us to safely resume normal activities. “
You can find more stories from where you live at Near you.