One in 30 Londoners had Covid-19 last week, according to ‘frightening’ new estimates.
Roughly 1.1 million people in private households in England – the equivalent of around 2.06% of the population, or one in 50 people – had coronavirus between December 27 and January 2, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Meanwhile one in 30 people in private households in London – more than 290,000 people – are estimated to have had the virus in the same period, ONS figures show.
The data from the Covid-19 infection survey represents a rise from 800,900 people, or one in 70, who were estimated to have the virus in the period December 17 to 23.
This does not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, described the recent figures as ‘frighteningly high’, adding that for comparison, ONS data from June showed infection numbers around one in 4,000.
Slides presented at a government briefing showed that one in 50 people in England are thought to be infected with coronavirus
One in 30 Londoners had Covid-19 last week, according to official estimates (pictured: A deserted Leicester Square on January 05)
He said: ‘If we also highlight the huge numbers of confirmed daily cases, the fact that there’s more people in hospital now with Covid-19 than at any state of the pandemic, and that almost any graph you look at is on a steep upward trajectory, then the UK is clearly not in a good place right now.’
He added that although the UK passing 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in the ‘relatively near future’ is ‘inevitable’, the rollout of the vaccines allows for some optimism.
‘There is an optimistic future, with the rollout of the vaccine programme,’ he said. ‘The issue is that before we get to the point when we can all relax a little bit, there will be some grim times ahead.’
The figure for south-east England, eastern England and north-west England is estimated to be one in 45.
For the East Midlands it is one in 50. For north-east England – one in 60. For the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, the figure is one in 65.
For south-west England the estimate is one in 135.
The ONS estimates came as the Government recorded 60,916 daily cases as of 9am on Tuesday (pictured: Covent Garden on January 05)
The ONS estimates came as the Government recorded 60,916 daily cases as of 9am on Tuesday.
Virologist Professor Lawrence Young warned the Government needs to focus on rolling out second coronavirus jabs, not just the first, to curb the ‘alarming rise in infections’ which is being ‘fuelled by the new coronavirus variant’.
Double dip recession is on the way: Lockdown 3 is set to cost us £390million a day after Britain shuts up shop… fuelling fears of financial Armageddon
The UK faces plunging into its first double-dip recession since 1975, with the latest lockdown expected to cost almost £400million per day.
Output in the first quarter of this year will be £24.57billion lower than it would have been without the third national lockdown, a think-tank warned yesterday.
The Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts that if the lockdown is lifted in mid-February, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes, it will have cost the UK £390million every working day.
Business closures mean that output is likely to shrink by more than 4 per cent in the first three months of the year, according to the forecasting group Oxford Economics.
Although the economy should pick up later as the rollout of the Covid vaccine allows shops and restaurants to reopen, experts have already begun to slash their growth predictions for 2021.
Howard Archer, of the EY Item Club economic forecasting group, had previously pencilled in growth of 6.2 per cent for 2021.
But now, given the grim start to 2021, he doubts output – or gross domestic product (GDP) – will grow by more than 5.5 per cent.
Mr Archer said: ‘With restrictions now in place in most areas of the UK, the EY Item Club expects the economy will have a challenging start to 2021 and will likely see modest contraction in the first quarter. This would result in a double dip recession.’
A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, and a new one would represent the first double-dip recession to hit the UK since 1975, when the banking sector was in crisis and the country was being rocked by a series of strikes.
The pandemic dragged the UK into its first recession for 11 years at the start of last year.
The country had a brief respite in the third quarter as the first lockdown lifted and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme encouraged Britons to spend.
But the economy is expected to have shrunk again in the final three months of 2020 as Covid restrictions were reimposed.
Last month, the Bank of England predicted a 1 per cent decline for the final quarter of 2020. But Mr Archer thinks the fall could be nearer 2 per cent.
Prof Young, at Warwick Medical School, said the Prime Minister ‘did not discuss the need for the second dose of the vaccine’ to be rolled out during his press conference on Tuesday, or whether testing capacity would be increased during the lockdown.
Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said some hospitals are already ‘pretty full’ and he does not expect admissions to ease for ‘another two to three weeks’ following the start of the new lockdown.
New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) scientist Professor Robert Dingwall cautioned that although this signalled cases topping 60,000 for the first time, this is partly due to the rise in demand for tests over Christmas.
Prof Dingwall, a leading medical sociologist who advises the Government, said: ‘The data continue to be quite unstable from the holiday period and it may take another few days before we have a clear picture.’
The startling new data comes after Conservative MPs accused Matt Hancock of playing down the Government’s vaccination ambitions, amid claims that the his department has snubbed an offer by pharmacists to help the biggest vaccination drive in history – and it emerged doses of the vaccine will not be delivered to GPs on a Sunday.
The Health Secretary described the prospect of giving the coronavirus jab to the 13million vulnerable people who are most by mid-February as a ‘best-case scenario’ – despite it being the only way the country will get out of lockdown, with the livelihoods and mental well-being of millions riding on it.
Many of his parliamentary colleagues were not reassured by his comments to them over Zoom yesterday morning.
One MP who referred to the call as ‘Hancock’s half-hour’ said: ‘He emphasised that the prospect of the vulnerable being vaccinated by mid-February was a best-case scenario. It was heavily caveated.
‘He set out plenty of reasons why it might not happen by then. He left himself plenty of wriggle room. It was very much an aspiration and there were no guarantees. I fear that they have not got the vaccine in sufficient quantities.’
‘He said two million doses of the Oxford vaccine would arrive this week for use next week. They should have been stockpiling. The rollout needs to happen as fast as possible. It’s the only chance we’ve got.’
The Tory MPs fears follow claims from industry leaders that high street pharmacies ‘desperately’ want to roll out more than a million Oxford vaccine doses a week but have been snubbed by the government. They say pharmacies could help deliver more than a million injections a week if the 11,400 locations with a pharmacist trained to give injections carry out 20 a day.
And leaked documents show Public Health England has decided to not work on Sundays to deliver the Covid-19 vaccines to NHS hospitals, with guidance to NHS Trusts warning that deliveries will not be made on Sundays or after agreed ‘cut-off points’ every lunchtime, according to reports.
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Services Committee, asked why the NHS has been ‘scrabbling around’ to find ways to administer the vaccine when his industry has offered their services.
Ministers have come under pressure to deploy thousands of vaccinators at pharmacies to the national effort in rolling out the inoculations, rather than relying on GPs, nurses and volunteers, but Mr Dukes says his industry has been met with a ‘de facto silence’ despite telling the NHS they are ‘ready, willing and desperate to help’, The Telegraph reports.
Downing Street issued a series of slides showing the problem the country faces due to the new variant of the virus – the evidence that apparently forced Mr Johnson into his latest extraordinary U-turn
He said that there were roughly 11,400 pharmacies across Britain that administered flu jabs each year, with capacity to vaccinate around 1.3 million people a week against Covid-19.
And leaked documents show Public Health England decided to not work on Sundays to deliver the Covid-19 vaccines to NHS hospitals, reports claim.
Next-day deliveries should only be expected from Monday to Friday, providing orders are placed before 11.55am, operating procedures issued to NHS Trusts warn. Reports say that if an order is placed on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, it will not arrive until Monday.
A PHE source told the Telegraph: ‘You need a cut-off point or the whole system would fall over. And we agreed the six-day week with the NHS.’
Interim chief executive of PHE Michael Brodie said: ‘We run a seven-day-a-week service and have fulfilled 100 per cent of orders from the NHS on time and in full – with routine next-day deliveries six days a week, as agreed with the NHS and the capability to send orders on Sundays if required.’
Coronavirus is thought to have inflicted the worst hit to GDP since the Great Frost of 1709
World leader: Israel has already given a first dose to nearly 1.4million of its 8.7million population, and plans to have a fifth of its people fully vaccinated by the end of January. The rapid rollout contrasts with the delays that have hampered the process in Europe and the US
In relation to Matt Hancock’s comments about the vaccine, a Department for Health source said: ‘As the Health Secretary said on the call, our goal is to have offered priority groups one to four their first dose by the middle of February. That is an ambitious goal but achievable.’
Yesterday, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it was ‘realistic but not easy’ to keep to the vaccine timetable.
‘In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, as I think is widely reported, it’s more difficult to handle because of the complicated cold chain model,’ he said.
‘We also, with both vaccines, wanted to be very careful in the first two or three days that we went a little bit slowly just in case there were some initial unexpected problems.’
Mr Johnson has said that 1.3 million people in the UK – including 1.1 million in England – have now had the jab. The figures includes 650,000 over-80s – or 23 per cent of that group.
‘That means nearly one-in-four of the most vulnerable groups will have in two to three weeks a significant degree of immunity,’ the PM said.
But Tory MP David Davis said: ‘There’s not a hope in hell they’ll achieve this by mid-February. March is optimistic. I suspect it will be sometime in April. We need more vaccines to be rolled out.
‘Anyone who’s run a business would foresee the bottlenecks and issues with production.’