UK

Covid England: SAGE drops R rate estimate and says figure may be as low as 0.7

England’s coronavirus R rate could now be as low as 0.7 and infections are continuing to fall, according to official estimates.

No10’s scientific advisers predict the reproduction rate – the average number of people infected patients pass the virus on to – is no higher than 1.0. Last week SAGE said the figure was likely between 0.8 and 1.0. 

Office for National Statistics surveillance data also suggested only one in 500 people in England had the virus at any point in the week ending April 10, a 34 per cent drop from the previous week. For comparison, the rate during the darkest days of the nation’s second wave in January was around one in 50 – or 2 per cent of the population. 

Pubs and restaurants had not reopened for outdoor service for the time period covered by the ONS data, although schools had been welcoming back pupils for more than a month.  

The ONS infection survey is seen as the gold-standard for tracking the outbreak by ministers because it relies on random swabbing of more than 100,000 Britons. 

Ministers once put the R rate at the heart of No10’s Covid response. But experts say the measure – which is based on three-week-old data and doesn’t reflect lockdown relaxation measures on April 12 – has become redundant in the face of vaccines and will inevitably spike over the coming months.

Top experts have said data overall suggests Britain is starting to see the ‘early signs’ of herd immunity – when the virus cannot spread in a population because enough people have protection.

It comes as separate data analysed by MailOnline revealed that almost half of people in England are now living in areas that are almost entirely free of Covid and have vaccine uptake rates above 90 per cent.  

Senior backbench Tory MPs have called on Boris Johnson to speed up plans to unlock the economy, slamming him for ‘wasting’ the advantage from the vaccine roll-out. 

SAGE scientists today downgraded their estimate of England’s R rate to between 0.7 and 1.0

Office for National Statistics estimates say 112,600 people had the virus in England in the week to April 10, a drop of 30 per cent from the previous seven-day spell. Their figures are seen as the gold-standard by ministers because they rely on random swabbing of more than 100,000 Britons to generate their estimates meaning they catch those who are less likely to get tested

Office for National Statistics estimates say 112,600 people had the virus in England in the week to April 10, a drop of 30 per cent from the previous seven-day spell. Their figures are seen as the gold-standard by ministers because they rely on random swabbing of more than 100,000 Britons to generate their estimates meaning they catch those who are less likely to get tested

Covid case rates were also predicted to have shrunk in most age groups by the ONS. Their figures do not take into account the reopening of pubs and restaurants for outdoor service

Covid case rates were also predicted to have shrunk in most age groups by the ONS. Their figures do not take into account the reopening of pubs and restaurants for outdoor service

ONS statisticians also estimated most regions had seen a drop in Covid cases amid predictions the country is beginning to see the first signs of herd immunity against the virus

ONS statisticians also estimated most regions had seen a drop in Covid cases amid predictions the country is beginning to see the first signs of herd immunity against the virus

England had the highest prevalence of the virus in the UK with a positivity rate - proportion of swabs testing positive - at 0.21 per cent. But it was still far below the peak in January

England had the highest prevalence of the virus in the UK with a positivity rate – proportion of swabs testing positive – at 0.21 per cent. But it was still far below the peak in January

JUST 50% OF CARE HOME STAFF JABBED IN LONDON BOROUGH WHERE NURSING HOME SUFFERED OUTBREAK OF SOUTH AFRICAN STRAIN

The South African Covid variant has caused an outbreak in a care home in a London borough where only half of staff have been vaccinated – the lowest rate in England.

At least 13 staff and 10 residents in a home in Lambeth, in the south of the capital, tested positive for the mutated strain of the virus this month.

Six of the residents and one of the staff members are believed to have been vaccinated at least two weeks earlier but got infected anyway, while others hadn’t been jabbed. Although studies have suggested the jabs are slightly less effective against the variant, scientists expect they will still prevent serious illness and help to stop Covid spreading, but only if uptake is high and communities develop mass protection.

NHS Test & Trace has started surge testing in Lambeth, as well as in nearby Wandsworth and parts of Barnet and Southwark after variant cases were found there, too. There have been a total of 600 found in the UK so far.

The outbreak appears to have been triggered by someone who travelled to Africa – but not South Africa itself – and then returned to London and went into a care home, the BBC reports.

Lambeth, where the spike began, has the lowest vaccine uptake rate in the country, NHS data show. Only 50 per cent of care staff there had had a jab by the end of last week.

The Government and health officials have urged all carers to get vaccinated to protect people in care homes but thousands are refusing to take up the offer, so worried ministers are now considering making it a legal requirement.

SAGE R rate estimates suggest that England’s outbreak is still not growing, but may also not be shrinking.

Their upper estimate was the crucial value of 1.0, suggesting everyone that has the virus is passing it on to one other person.

The R rate is calculated using a number of indicators including Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths. But it is a lagging indicator, with the current value reflecting the period up to two to three weeks ago.

The R rate was only estimated to be above one in London (0.8 to 1.1) and the South West (0.7 to 1.1), suggesting the outbreaks are flattening off in both areas.

The North West and the South East had the lowest rates (0.6 to 0.9), suggesting cases are shrinking fastest there.

The ONS infection survey sends out more than 100,000 Covid tests to households up and down the country, asking participants to swab themselves for the virus.

These are then posted back to a central lab where they are tested using PCR to see whether any are coated with the virus. The proportion that are positive allow statisticians to estimate the size of the UK’s outbreak. 

Estimates suggested England had the highest Covid prevalence in the country (112,600 cases), with a positivity rate – proportion of swabs testing positive – at 0.21 per cent. But this was barely a tenth of the January peak.

Scotland had the second highest prevalence with a rate of 0.2 per cent, equating to one in 500 people being infected, and Northern Ireland was third highest at 0.14 per cent, or one in 710 carrying the virus. Wales registered the lowest rate at 0.11 per cent or 1 in 920 residents having Covid.

Every age group in England saw a drop in cases in the seven days to April 10 except over-70s where they remained level, according to ONS estimates.

The oldest age group also had the lowest positivity rate (0.08 per cent) for the virus. Everyone in this group has been offered at least one dose of the Covid jab.

Those aged 25 to 34 had the second lowest positivity rate in England (0.11 per cent) and 16 to 24-year-olds the third lowest (0.15 per cent).

On the other hand, 12 to 16-year-olds had the highest rate (0.42 per cent), while those aged 6 to 11 had the second highest (0.27 per cent) and 35 to 49-year-olds the third highest (0.23 per cent).

Cases initially ticked up slightly among children with the reopening of schools, which experts put down to twice weekly swabbing in the group identifying cases that would have previously been missed. Classrooms were closed over early April for the Easter break.

The ONS also suggested more than half of England’s regions saw a dip in cases last week, with none seeing a any spikes in infections. North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, London and the South East all saw a fall.

The East of England and the South West were estimated to have the lowest positivity rate (0.09 per cent), followed by the South East (0.1 per cent) and London (0.18 per cent).

The North West had the highest positivity rate (0.36 per cent), the North East the second highest (0.34 per cent) and the East Midlands the third highest (0.26 per cent).

A top scientist behind the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study claimed yesterday statistics currently suggested Britain is ‘starting to see herd immunity take effect’. 

King’s College London epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector explained this was because more than 60 per cent of the adult population had received at least one dose and up to 10 per cent were protected by previous infection.

More than 32million Britons have received at least one dose of the vaccine, around three in five adults. Experts have suggested the immunity threshold needed to stop Covid spreading is likely around 75 per cent. 

Senior backbench Tory MPs have piled pressure on the Prime Minister to speed up unlocking the economy, slamming him for wasting the ‘advantage’ from the jab programme. 

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said ‘data, not dates’ will dictate when lockdown ends, yet the next relaxation isn’t due until May 17, when pubs welcome people indoors again and foreign travel could be allowed. 

Wales and Scotland have already shown they are willing to drop curbs quicker than planned in light of promising data after bringing their relaxations forward.

Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne told MailOnline: ‘The ”abundance of caution”, as it is referred to, comes at an enormous cost. For the hospitality trade that is £200million a day in terms of lost revenues.

‘It does seem that the Scots appear to be abiding at least nominally to being guided by ”data rather than dates”. But clearly we are sticking with dates. We have a vaccination programme that is enormously to our advantage… Why are we not making use of it? What is the point of having advantage if you don’t actually exploit it?’

Public Health England (PHE) data shows that more than half of all people in the country are living in areas that are almost entirely free of coronavirus

Public Health England (PHE) data shows that more than half of all people in the country are living in areas that are almost entirely free of coronavirus

NHS England’s vaccination figures, which use population statistics from the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS), show 19.9million out of 22.4million over-50s in England have had the jab.

But uptake levels vary wildly across the country when broken down into what is known as a middle layer super output areas – the most granular in England for which data is available They are home to around 10,000 people each.   

Tidenham and Woolaston in Gloucestershire had the lowest uptake figure in the country at just 27.7 per cent but the figure is likely artificially low because of the areas proximity to Wales. Some residents may be getting jabs in Wales, skewing the English statistics.

It was followed by the inner-city districts of: Harehills South in Leeds (53.1) and Bayswater East in London, Queensway in London (both 54.4 per cent), Hans Town in London (54.6 per cent) and Moss Side West in Manchester (55.2 per cent). 

An the other end of the table, Eccleston in Lancashire has an uptake rate of 97.1 per cent, followed by Tadcaster (96.9 per cent) and Nailsea East (96.7 per cent), both of which are in Selby, North Yorkshire. 

They were followed by Hucclecote, Gloucestershire (96.5 per cent), Morpeth South and West in Northumberland (96.5 per cent), Prestbury and Racecourse in Cheshire (96.4 per cent) in and Cam in Gloucestershire (96.4 per cent).

The NHS has now offered vaccines to everyone in the Government’s top nine priority groups — which include all over-50s, medics, carers and the clinically vulnerable. So far 27.2m people in England have been given their first dose of the jab and 7m have been fully vaccinated.  

First doses have slowed down drastically as the focus shifts to second doses, but England is still pressing ahead and inviting over-45s for jabs.   

PHE’s data shows 4,361 out of 6,791 MSOAs reported fewer than three daily Covid cases in the week up to April 10. A significant number would have recorded none at all.  

Infection numbers have been concealed for 10 weeks in a row in Bampton, Holcombe, Westleigh, Lynton and Combe Martin in Devon. 

What are the top 10 areas for Covid vaccine uptake in England?

Eccleston, Lancashire

Tadcaster, Yorkshire

Nailsea East, Yorkshire

Hucclecote,  Gloucestershire

97.1 per cent

96.9 per cent

96.7 per cent

96.5 per cent

Morpeth South & West, Northumberland

Prestbury & Racecourse, Cheshire

Cam, Gloucestershire

Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire

96.4 per cent

96.4 per cent

Easingwold & Stillington, Yorkshire

Fressingfield, Laxfield & Worlingworth, Suffolk

What are the bottom 10 areas for Covid vaccine uptake in England?

Tidenham & Woolaston,  Gloucestershire

Harehills South, Leeds

Bayswater East, London

Queensway, London

Hans Town, London 

Moss Side West, Manchester

53.2 per cent

54.4 per cent

54.4 per cent

54.4 per cent

55.2 per cent

Kensington Gardens, London

Rusholme West & Moss Side East, Manchester

Waterloo Road, London

North Central & Dartmouth Circus, Birmingham 

56.6 per cent

57.6 per cent 

*figures artificially low because of proximity to Wales 

 

Just 50% of care home staff have been jabbed in London borough where nursing home is at centre of South African Covid variant outbreak

The South African Covid variant has caused an outbreak in a care home in a London borough where only half of staff have been vaccinated – the lowest rate in England.

At least 13 staff and 11 residents in a home in Lambeth, in the south of the capital, tested positive for the mutated strain of the virus this month. 

Six of the residents and one of the staff members are believed to have been vaccinated at least two weeks earlier but got infected anyway, while others hadn’t been jabbed. Although studies have suggested the jabs don’t work as well against the variant, scientists expect they will still prevent serious illness and help to stop Covid spreading, but only if uptake is high and communities develop mass protection.

NHS Test & Trace has started surge testing in Lambeth, as well as in nearby Wandsworth and parts of Barnet and Southwark after cases were found there, too.

The outbreak appears to have been triggered by someone who travelled to Africa and then returned to London and went into a care home, the BBC reports.

Lambeth, where the spike began, has the lowest vaccine uptake rate in the country, NHS data show. Only 50 per cent of care staff there had had a jab by the end of last week.

The Government and health officials have urged all carers to get vaccinated to protect people in care homes but thousands are refusing to take up the offer., so worried ministers are now considering making it a legal requirement. 

Experts fear the South African variant will be able to keep circulating even after people are vaccinated because jabs don’t work as well against it. One SAGE adviser said on Wednesday that local lockdowns could be needed to contain it in London. 

In Cornwall, Towednack, Lelant, Carbis Bay, Probus and Roseland, have gone more than two months without publishing data. 

Even postcodes within densely populated cities that were hit hard by the pandemic last year are now virtually free of the disease. 

In inner-city areas of Manchester, which became the Covid capital in the UK last autumn, Castlefield and Deansgate, New Islington and Miles Platting, City Centre North, Collyhurst, Hulme and University and Moss Side West are currently recording fewer than three daily cases. The majority of areas in Liverpool, which was also badly hit last year as the crisis shifted north, have had their infection data concealed.

However, there are still some pockets where there are tens of new cases every day, most of which are in Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands. In the former, more than 60 per cent of areas are still detecting enough cases to not require redacting case data, while in the latter it is about half.

The current hotspot is Bridlington West, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, where there are roughly 52 cases per day. It is followed by Burngreave and Grimesthorpe, in Sheffield, where there are roughly 30. 

Only 10 other postcodes, in Sheffield, Kirklees, Hull, Rotherham, Luton, Bradford and Stoke, are recording more than 20 daily cases on average.  

The same granular data is not available for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, where there will be even more places with vanishingly small case numbers, by virtue of having much smaller populations. 

A wealth of other official statistics also highlight the success of the vaccine programme and brutal winter lockdown.

Test and Trace data showed the number of weekly cases in England dropped by 34 per cent in the first week of April, with fewer than 20,000 positive tests recorded.

PHE’s weekly surveillance report found Covid infections were still falling in every age group and region in the week ending April 11, suggesting the loosening of curbs ahead of Easter did not cause the nation’s outbreak to spike. 

A top scientist behind the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study all the Covid indicators suggested the UK is ‘starting to see herd immunity take effect’.

King’s College London epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector explained this was because more than 60 per cent of the adult population had received at least one dose and up to 10 per cent were protected by previous infection. 

Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study, said the epidemic had ‘mainly’ been squashed by the ‘exemplar vaccine programme’. 

He said: ‘As the UK slowly exits lockdown, I’m encouraged to see Covid cases continue to fall with our rates among the lowest in Europe. 

‘In fact, the UK closely mirrors cases in Israel with its exemplar vaccine programme. 

‘Based on our data and countries like Israel, I believe the fall in cases since January is mainly thanks to the vaccination programme and less about the strict lockdown the UK has been under since late December. 

‘With up to 60 per cent of the population vaccinated and around 5 to 10 per cent with natural immunity due to infection, we’re starting to see herd immunity take effect. This should prevent future large-scale outbreaks.’

Professor Spector warned it was inevitable cases would pick up again as restrictions are eased over the coming months. 

But he said any outbreaks would be ‘smaller’ and ‘manageable’ and among groups yet to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the South African Covid variant has caused an outbreak in a care home in a London borough where only half of staff have been vaccinated – the lowest rate in England.

At least 13 staff and 11 residents in a home in Lambeth, in the south of the capital, tested positive for the mutated strain of the virus this month. 

Six of the residents and one of the staff members are believed to have been vaccinated at least two weeks earlier but got infected anyway, while others hadn’t been jabbed. Although studies have suggested the jabs don’t work as well against the variant, scientists expect they will still prevent serious illness and help to stop Covid spreading, but only if uptake is high and communities develop mass protection.

Vaccines not lockdown are to thank for rapid drop in cases 

Vaccines are behind Britain’s sharp drop in coronavirus cases since January, top experts claimed — despite Boris Johnson insisting lockdown was the reason for the fall.  

Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study, said the epidemic had ‘mainly’ been squashed by the ‘exemplar vaccine programme’.

With more than 60 per cent of the population jabbed with at least one dose and up to 10 per cent protected due to prior infection, Professor Spector added Britain was ‘starting to see herd immunity take effect’.

Professor Spector said: ‘As the UK slowly exits lockdown, I’m encouraged to see Covid cases continue to fall with our rates among the lowest in Europe. 

‘In fact, the UK closely mirrors cases in Israel with its exemplar vaccine programme. Based on our data and countries like Israel, I believe the fall in cases since January is mainly thanks to the vaccination programme and less about the strict lockdown the UK has been under since late December. 

‘With up to 60 per cent of the population vaccinated and around 5 to 10 per cent with natural immunity due to infection, we’re starting to see herd immunity take effect. This should prevent future large-scale outbreaks.’

Professor Spector warned it was inevitable cases would pick up again as restrictions are eased over the coming months. But he said any outbreaks would be ‘smaller’ and ‘manageable’ and among groups yet to be vaccinated.

It comes after the Prime Minister claimed the reduction in Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths was down to lockdowns and was not achieved by the roll-out of vaccines. In a significant toning down of his praise for the jabs, he said the ‘bulk of the work’ in reducing the disease was done by brutal restrictions.

The Government’s own analysis has shown the vaccines have so far prevented 10,000 Covid deaths and are reducing hospitalisations by more than 80 per cent. Experts told MailOnline today the PM’s comments were ‘slightly misleading’ and suggested it was an attempt by Downing Street to keep people in check as lockdown is lifted. 

NHS Test & Trace has started surge testing in Lambeth, as well as in nearby Wandsworth and parts of Barnet and Southwark after cases were found there, too.

The outbreak appears to have been triggered by someone who travelled to Africa and then returned to London and went into a care home, the BBC reports.

Lambeth, where the spike began, has the lowest vaccine uptake rate in the country, NHS data show. Only 50 per cent of care staff there had had a jab by the end of last week.

The Government and health officials have urged all carers to get vaccinated to protect people in care homes but thousands are refusing to take up the offer., so worried ministers are now considering making it a legal requirement. 

Experts fear the South African variant will be able to keep circulating even after people are vaccinated because jabs don’t work as well against it. One SAGE adviser said on Wednesday that local lockdowns could be needed to contain it in London.  

The Lambeth care home where the South African variant is thought to have caused an outbreak has not been named.

The individual is thought to have been in Africa – but not South Africa – and picked up the virus before returning to London and passing it on to people they live with and then to people in the care home, the BBC reported.

It is not clear whether they work at the care home or were visiting. 

Vaccine uptake among care home residents in Lambeth is high – 92 per cent of them have had at least one dose of a jab, with only 40 residents unvaccinated.

This is slightly lower than the England average, at 94 per cent, but still significant coverage. 

The rate among care staff, however, is the lowest in the country at just 50 per cent.

Out of 905 care workers in the borough, only 453 had taken up the offer of the vaccines designed to save the lives of the residents they care for. The latest data count vaccines given up to April 11.

Scientists and politicians have warned it is vital that carers and NHS staff get vaccinated against Covid because their patients are at such a high risk from the virus.

The Department of Health this week revealed a proposal to change the law to make it mandatory for carers to have the jab before they can work in a home.

At least 41,448 care home residents have died with Covid-19 since the pandemic began – around 10 per cent of the entire population.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this week: ‘Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19 and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group.

‘Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for, to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives.

‘We have a duty of care to those most vulnerable to COVID-19, so it is right we consider all options to keep people safe.’

Other London boroughs also have among the lowest vaccine uptake rates among care home workers.

Only two thirds of care workers have had a jab in Wandsworth and Redbridge (63 per cent); Southwark, Enfield and Hackney (64 per cent); and Barnet (66 per cent).

Those boroughs are also the ones where the South African variant is known to be spreading – cases were recorded this week in Wandsworth, Southwark and Barnet.

This double threat – low vaccine rates and the presence of the variant – makes the Covid risk higher than in other areas.

The low uptake rate may be because the areas have a large proportion black and ethnic minority groups, who are more likely to refuse the vaccine. 

Uptake is also low among carers nationwide for this reason, and also because they are usually in low income households, where people are also less likely to get a jab.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chief at the JCVI vaccines committee, said in a Royal Society of Medicine seminar this week: ‘There are problems in London, where the coverage rates are lower, and there are problems among certain ethnic minority groups, such as black Africans, where rates are lower, and we still need to do a lot of work with those groups.’

A total of 600 cases of the South African strain, known as B.1.351, have now been detected by Public Health England and it has been spreading since autumn last year.

Experts fear that, because vaccines don’t work as well against it, it could continue to spread even as the rollout reaches the majority of adults.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the SAGE government advisory group, said on ITV’s Peston this week: ‘What we are looking at in south London is an example of what we’ll see now in the coming months as we try our best to keep that variant out, or at as low a level as we possibly can.

‘Because if these mass testing events don’t work that well, and we don’t know yet – I mean, we’ll have to evaluate this one very carefully – then it’s possible that we’ll have to impose some sort of local restrictions back in place and nobody wants to do it.’ 


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button