‘No doubt’ there will be further wave of Covid, warns statistics chief

The British national statistician said he had “no doubt” that there will be another wave of Covid-19 infections in the fall.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, director of the National Statistics Office (ONS), also said that there are large regional variations in the number of antibodies.

His comments come after England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was still a risk of society reopening and the UK would see another surge in cases at some point, possibly in late summer or fall and winter.

Sir Ian said people need to understand how the data is moving and examine the impact of the “wonderful” vaccine rollout.

“But having said that, we also need to realize that this is a virus that is not going to go away,” he told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.

“And I have no doubt that there will be another wave of infections in the fall.”

When asked if it was too early to know how much the UK’s decline in infections was due to the launch of the vaccine, he said there are a number of moving parts like vaccines and restrictions.

Sir Ian told the program, “I mean, I would say, however, that this has been an incredibly impressive vaccine rollout. We looked at antibodies in the population and expanded our survey to be able to do many more blood tests so we can investigate the effects.

“And what we are seeing is a remarkable rise in antibody levels in the over 80s and increasingly in the over 70s. So I am very, very confident that the introduction of the vaccine does indeed offer real protection.

“On the other hand, we see a very relatively high level among young people, which only shows how many young people are affected by the virus.

“To conclude, I just want to say that there are a lot of regional differences. So we find that 30% of London has antibodies, while only 16% in the South West, so we need to recognize that too.”

During the week, Prof. Whitty said he would “strongly advise against” shortening the timeline for easing lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Prof. Whitty said the measures slated for May 17, when up to six people may be allowed indoors to mix, pose “significant risks”.

The modeling considered by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) has shown that even under the most optimistic assumptions, at least another 30,000 Covid-19 deaths could occur.

Prof. Whitty said, “What we’re going to see is that with things opening up, the modeling suggests that at some point we’ll get a surge in the virus.

“We hope it doesn’t happen soon. For example, it can happen later in the summer when we gradually open up, or because of the seasonal effect that can occur next fall and winter.”

“All the modeling suggests there will be another spike and that will find the people who either weren’t vaccinated or the vaccine didn’t work.

“Some of them will end up in the hospital and unfortunately some of them will continue to die.”

Elsewhere, charities have written an open letter to encourage people with underlying health conditions to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine.

Cancer Research UK, Mencap and the Terrence Higgins Trust are among the 18 signatories to the letter, which is addressed to people in Vaccine Cohort 6.

The group includes both caregivers and people with a range of underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for coronavirus.

These include chronic respiratory diseases, heart, kidney and liver diseases as well as neurological diseases, immunosuppression, asplenia, diabetes, morbid obesity and severe mental illness.

People with sickle cell disease, lupus, and people with a GP learning disability registry, as well as people with vascular disease or stroke, also belong to group six.

More than 23.6 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest government figures.

There have been an additional 5,534 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, while the UK has recorded 121 deaths in people who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 28 days.

Meanwhile, the NHS is slated to text millions of vulnerable people with underlying health conditions asking them to take the vaccine.

People with conditions such as diabetes and certain types of cancer will be given a link to book an appointment for a sting at a vaccination center or pharmacy across England.


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