Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that elderly and vulnerable people need to get booster shots if there is to be a reduction in Covid cases in the UK. He also warned about "storm clouds" over Europe.
Germany, Austria and Slovakia are just a few of the countries that have seen an increase in Covid cases. The former recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases since the outbreak.
Boris Johnson stated that the situation was concerning in a broadcast clip. "I can see the storm clouds gathering over some parts of Europe. And I have to be completely honest with people: We've been there before. He said that we all remember what happens when the waves start rolling in."
Hans Kluge (European Head of World Health Organization) stated that the reason for the rise is a lack in uptake of Covid vaccinations.
Johnson acknowledged that the UK was seeing cases "drift down" for some time, but he did not know if this trend would continue. Johnson stated, "I'm just looking at what's going on overseas and I'm simply telling the British people that this is the time to get your booster."
Infection rates rose after coronavirus restrictions in England were lifted over the summer. The UK had one of the highest cases in Europe by October. Although the numbers are still high, the Office for National Statistics has released the latest infection levels figures and daily case data. The latter revealed that approximately one in sixty people in England had Covid during the week ending 6/11. This is a total of 925,400 people.
This is a decrease from late October when 1 in 50 English citizens was thought to have a Covid-related infection. Although a drop was also recorded in Wales, the rate of people who test positive in Scotland has remained the same. The trend in Northern Ireland is not clear.
The decline in England was evident in all age groups and regions, but it seems that the trend is stronger among older children.
The question is whether infection rates will increase again after schools return from the recent half-terms or if children's immunity levels are growing, as some argue, meaning that a peak may have been reached.
"A marked decline in secondary school infections in England may be due to the half-term break, even though infections were decreasing before this time," stated Sarah Crofts (head of analysis outputs for Covid-19's infection survey). "We will be able to see if the decline continues over the next few weeks."
This is far from a clear picture. The ONS survey tracks existing and new infections. People can be positive for a while, so changes in the ONS data may take two weeks to catch up with daily reported cases. These are based only on people who have come forward for testing. This suggests that cases are showing signs of rebounding at least in part.
Daily reported cases in the UK declined during the second half October and early November. However, they rose for four consecutive days to reach 42,408 on Wednesday. Thursday saw the reporting of 40,375 Covid cases in the UK.
Professor Rowland Kao from the University of Edinburgh is an epidemiologist. He said that the recent increase in cases was tied in with a return of schools but that the situation remained balanced. It is difficult to determine whether the increase in cases represents a sustained increase. He said that vaccines and boosters are still being developed and that natural immunity is increasing, so it could go either way.
Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who sits on Sage, stated that half-term was always going be a big impact and that cases are now at roughly the exact same level or a little less in most countries and regions of the UK than they were two weeks ago (pre-half-terms). There are exceptions like Scotland, where cases seem to be rising.
Edmunds stated that such a pattern is possible if the epidemic peaks naturally, which has been the case for most of the time. He said that the natural peak would be longer than a lockdown-induced peak. Therefore, he expected to see high rates in infection, hospitalisations, and deaths for several weeks or months.
British Medical Association chair Dr Vishal Sharma stated that the NHS is already overloaded. He stated, "There is no doubt that patients aren't receiving the quality of care they deserve from a fully functioning healthcare system. If more isn't done to safeguard the NHS, we risk taking an already fragile recovery in the backwards."
"The government claims it will only take action when the NHS is in danger of being overwhelmed. Our doctors, who are on the frontline, know that this isn't a threat but is actually happening now.