Britain records 20 Covid daily deaths and 2,474 cases as third wave rises

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The UK today confirmed another 20 Covid deaths and 2,474 infections, as SAGE advisers U-turned on their grisly third wave estimates and slashed predictions for next year's death toll by a factor of 10.

Positive tests were up a quarter on last Tuesday (27 per cent) and the daily average has now been rising for a week.

SAGE warned in documents published yesterday that next week's rule relaxation would trigger a rise in cases again, with hospital admissions and deaths to follow, but said vaccines would keep this significantly smaller than in any previous spike.


Another 231,835 people got their second vaccine doses yesterday, taking the total above 18million, while another 115,053 first doses were given out meaning 35,587,348 people have had at least one jab.

Data suggest vaccines are working so well in the real world that mathematical modellers who advise SAGE have dramatically downgraded their bleak predictions of more than 100,000 further Covid deaths within the next year and a third wave of the virus to rival the first two.

Their total death toll projection – which is shown to the Prime Minister and has previously been criticised for being too downbeat – has fallen 10-fold since the start of the UK's vaccine rollout as studies proved the jabs will slow transmission of the virus.

A report published yesterday showed that real-world data accounting for vaccinated people being less likely to pass on the virus has been factored in to long-term estimates for the first time.

The Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team, some of the Government's top advisers whose work triggered the first national lockdown in March 2020, have now revised their worst-case death toll for England to 16,600 more between May 2021 and June 2022.

This is based on the current scenario, with jabs remaining effective over time and no new variants taking over, and marks a drastic fall from a warning in January that 167,600 across the UK could die of Covid between then and next summer.

The team's death toll predictions have become lower and lower over recent months as studies showed how well vaccines are working in the real world.

In the past the team's models, among others, have been described as 'pessimistic'. Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King's College who runs the Covid Symptom Study, said last month: 'They seem to be picking the most pessimistic of the assumptions each time in order to come up with the worst case scenario, perhaps to avoid complacency... But we're not going to see anything like we've seen previously.'

Public Health England has published data showing that jabs prevent up to 97 per cent of Covid cases and prevent around half of transmission from people who get infected after being vaccinated. Around 35.5million people in the UK have now had their first jab and 17.86m are fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night announced that lockdown-easing plans would go ahead next Monday, May 17, with indoor socialising allowed as well as pubs and restaurants opening indoors and holidays permitted again. He said officials 'remain on track' to end lockdown completely in June and hinted social distancing could go.



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Estimates of the Covid death toll up to June 2022 have been revised down numerous times over the last five months by experts at Imperial College London, as real-world evidence built up that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were becoming increasingly effective at preventing infection and transmission. Although almost 33,500 people have died in England since the January predictions were made, the modellers had previously included tens of thousands more deaths that they no longer believe will happen


 
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