Number of Brits falling ill with Covid more than DOUBLES in a week

Number of Brits falling ill with Covid every day more than DOUBLES in a week to nearly 12,000 – but top scientist says it’s ‘clear’ epidemic fuelled by Indian variant is only among the unvaccinated and people waiting for second jab

  • ZOE Covid study estimates 11,908 people across the UK are showing symptoms of the virus every day 
  • Professor Tim Spector said spiralling cases are caused by the ‘much more transmissible’ Indian variant
  • Scientists fear the mutant strain may be 60 per cent more transmissible than the once dominant Kent version 

The number of people falling ill with Covid has more than doubled in a week, a symptom-tracking study warned today amid the rapid spread of the Indian variant across the UK.

An estimated 11,908 people across the UK are showing symptoms of the virus every day, according to the ZOE Covid study, up 109 per cent from 5,677 last week. 

The troubling figures add to worries surrounding the final stage of lockdown easing on June 21 ‘Freedom Day’, with the scientist behind the study confirming the Covid situation in the UK ‘has rapidly changed’.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, said the spiralling case numbers were caused by ‘increased social interaction and a newly dominant variant that is much more transmissible’.

No10’s top scientists fear the mutant strain may be 60 per cent more transmissible than the once dominant Kent version, which could pile huge pressure on hospitals if the virus is allowed to spread. Updated SAGE modelling suggests the ‘Delta’ variant could trigger a ‘substantial’ third wave. 

Boris Johnson yesterday said ‘everybody can see cases and hospitalisations are going up’ and gave the strongest hint yet the date for the final stage of lockdown easing could be pushed back.

The Prime Minister is set to implement a ‘mix and match’ unlocking if the date goes ahead, according to Government sources, with restrictions on the number of guests at weddings abandoned but mandatory face masks and the work from home guidance kept in place.

Britain recorded another 7,540 positive tests yesterday in the biggest week-on-week spike since February, as the mutant strain continues to spiral.

It comes as Matt Hancock appears in front of MPs at the Health and Social Care Select Committee today after Dominic Cummings last month claimed the Health Secretary ‘should have been fired for at least 15 things’ during his handling of the pandemic. 

The number of people falling ill with Covid has more than doubled in a week, a symptom-tracking study warned today amid the rapid spread of the Indian variant across the UK

Illness is rising significantly more rapidly in 20- to 29-year-olds than in vaccinated older age groups, There were more than 400 symptomatic cases per 100,000 people in the cohort compared to less than 50 in over-60s

There are currently 1,917 vaccinated people falling ill with the virus, compared to 9,991 unvaccinated people. But cases are increasing in both groups, with 89 per cent more symptomatic cases in people week-on-week even after being jabbed

The ZOE Covid Study data suggests cases are higher and increasing faster in the unvaccinated population in the UK.

There are currently 1,917 vaccinated people falling ill with the virus, compared to 9,991 unvaccinated people. But cases are increasing in both groups, with 89 per cent more symptomatic cases in people week-on-week even after being jabbed.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London said the Covid situation in the UK ‘has rapidly changed’

Scotland and the North West were the worst affected regions in the UK. There were 3,465 people coming down with Covid in the North West — in which swathes of the region have been given new guidance to combat the Indian variant in hotspots — and 2,446 in Scotland.

But illness is rising significantly more rapidly in 20- to 29-year-olds than in vaccinated older age groups, There were more than 400 symptomatic cases per 100,000 people in the cohort compared to less than 50 in over-60s.

Professor Spector said: ‘The Covid situation in the UK has rapidly changed from one of the best performing nations to a nation again struggling with rising cases. 

‘Official confirmed cases are now around 7,500, which is the highest daily figure since late February. However, when you dig into the data, it’s clear that this is an epidemic among the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated populations in the UK and, due to the way vaccines have been rolled out, is largely affecting younger generations.

‘The rapid rise is likely down to two compounding factors; increased social interaction and a newly dominant variant that is much more transmissible. 

‘It’s no surprise that people are becoming fatigued with social distancing after a long 15 months of restrictions, which will only encourage the spread. 

‘The good news is that fully vaccinated people have much greater protection. Vaccines are working and we want to encourage people to exercise caution, especially if they feel at all unwell, until they’ve been fully vaccinated. 

‘The race is on to fully vaccinate the whole population to save lives and return to normal life.’ 

 

Speaking at the G7 summit in Cornwall yesterday, Boris Johnson gave the clearest hint yet that lockdown easing on June 21 would not go ahead because of the rapid spread of the Indian variant.

Me Johnson said: ‘What everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up and in some places hospitalisations are going up. What we need to assess is the extent to which the vaccine rollout, which has been phenomenal, has built up enough protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage. 

‘So that is what we will be looking at and there are arguments being made one way or another. But we will be driven by the data, we will be looking at that and setting it out on Monday.’ 

Just hours before the Prime Minister spoke, top SAGE advisor ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson suggested it would take at least another three weeks for scientists to know how much more transmissible the Indian variant is, suggesting hopes of ending lockdown in a fortnight are unlikely. 

Professor Ferguson, who has guided the Government through the pandemic, said scientists still don’t know how much faster the variant spreads, how much more deadly it is nor how big the third wave will be.

The chance that scientific advisers, ministers and Boris Johnson — who committed to ‘data not dates’ — will sign off on June 21 without this information is slim to none. An extra three weeks to collect the figures plus the PM’s one-week notice for a change in restrictions suggests in the best case scenario it will be early July before Step Four of the roadmap is taken.

Professor Ferguson said: ‘It’s well within the possibility that we could see another, third, wave at least comparable in terms of hospitalisations, as the second wave. At least deaths, I think, would certainly be lower. It’s hard to judge.’

The Imperial College London epidemiologist said researchers need to see how many people are admitted to hospital and die as a result of the current surge in infections. 

They believe it is around 60 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant, more likely to put people in hospital and that vaccines work less well against it. 

There have now been more than 19,000 new cases in just three days and Professor Ferguson suggested the outbreak’s doubling time could be less than a week, warning of ‘quite fast doubling, comparable with what we saw before Christmas.’

The prolific SAGE member’s warning is the closest thing to confirmation that Boris Johnson will delay the ending of social distancing laws planned for June 21. His ministers today took a ‘wait and see’ approach to questions about the roadmap and told people to hold off making summer plans.

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