Covid cases are now falling in EVERY age group in England: Experts hail promising infection data and say hospitalisations could start to fall next week
- EXCLUSIVE: Department of Health data shows Covid cases are now falling in every age group in England
- They are dropping fastest among adults in their twenties, by around 15 per cent in a day
- And are also falling among over-80s who have all received at least two doses of the Covid vaccine
Coronavirus cases are now falling across all age groups, according to official data which boosts hopes that the end of England’s third wave may now be in sight.
Top scientists advising the Government warned it was ‘almost inevitable’ daily infections would spiral to 100,000 next month, with one even warning they could reach double this figure.
But in an unexpected twist which has puzzled scientists, cases have actually fallen every day for the past week — with yesterday’s count being just half of what it was a week ago.
Department of Health data today revealed that infection rates are now ticking downwards in every age group in England, dipping fastest among twenty-somethings.
Experts said the downturn in cases was a ‘very good’ sign because it adds to mounting evidence that the third wave is in retreat. But they cautioned more data was needed before they could be certain the drop is permanent, and cases won’t tick up again following July 19 ‘Freedom Day’.
In another glimmer of hope, researchers also believe England’s hospitalisations will start to fall by the end of the week — mirroring a similar trend as seen in Scotland.
Figures show admission rates are already falling in Scotland, where cases began to drop around eight days after the country’s football team were knocked out of Euro 2020. Likewise, England’s drop in Covid infections began on July 19 — eight days after the Three Lions lost on penalties in an historic final against Italy.
Several members of SAGE have said a fall in Covid admissions would mark the beginning of the end of the third wave. But the number of infected patients needing medical care is still rising — albeit at a slower rate than it was.
It comes after a senior Government minister last night claimed Covid’s grip on the UK was ‘all over bar the shouting’. Pointing to the consistent declining trend in infections, they added: ‘Covid is on the point of becoming something you live with.’
But SAGE modeller Professor Mike Tildesley today said the pandemic isn’t all over ‘quite yet’ and warned the effects of Freedom Day are still yet to be seen in the data.
Boris Johnson said it was ‘too early’ to draw conclusions about the fall in the number of people testing positive for the virus.
In other Covid news:
- Ministers backed dropping quarantine rules for fully-vaccinated travellers from the EU and US today, as well as expats who received their inoculations abroad;
- Data showed survivors who get re-infected with Covid have lower viral loads which make them less likely to become unwell or spread the virus;
- Angry British holidaymakers vowed to continue flying to Spain despite facing 10-day quarantine on return and having to fork out hundreds of pounds for tests should the country be moved to the ‘amber-plus’ list;
- SAGE adviser warned Covid crisis hasn’t ended ‘quite yet’ and says seven days of falling cases could be down to people being unwilling to get tested ahead of their summer holidays.
Covid cases are falling in every age group, data shows. Above is the percentage change in Covid cases by seven-day averages published daily by the Department of Health
The above graph shows the seven-day rolling infection rate by age group for the past month. It reveals Covid cases are dipping in all age groups. This is not clear for older age groups pictured because the axis has been tightened to fit all ages
Boris Johnson (pictured at a police memorial today) has said it is still ‘too early’ to tell whether the fall in Covid cases is permanent. SAGE expert Professor Mike Tildesley warned the impact of Freedom Day is yet to be seen in the data
Scotland’s Covid hospital admissions (blue) have begun to fall around 10 days after cases fell, data revealed, after cases also dipped (red). Experts say it is ‘reasonable’ to expect the same to occur in England, with the nation’s downturn in infections delayed compared to Scotland because of Euro 2020
England has seen Covid infections (red) fall for the last seven days but has yet to see the trend in its hospital admissions, which usually follow by around 10 days. Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline while England may not see admissions (blue) fall on the ‘exact same day’ after their Euros exit as Scotland did, hospitalisations have already begun slowing
Scientists say temporary factors like schools closing, last week’s hot weather and people not wanting to get tested before going on holiday may be behind England’s declining cases.
Others believe one of the major reasons for the drop — especially in younger people — is because groups are no longer meeting up indoors to watch the Euros.
Experts suggest the downturn in older adults could also be linked to warmer weather, allowing people to spend more time outdoors where the virus finds it harder to spread.
Scotland’s Covid hospitalisations are now falling in line with cases, according to official data which raises hopes that England could soon follow suit.
Scientists say admissions in England are likely to start dropping by the end of the week following its seven-day fall in cases — with infections now half the level seen a week ago. One senior Government minister last night claimed the coronavirus’s grip on the UK is ‘all over bar the shouting’.
Experts say one of the factors behind the drop in England is that people are no longer meeting up in large groups to watch the national team’s games in Euro 2020 tournament.
Cases rose quickest in men and young people during and following the tournament but began to drop in Scotland around eight days after the team were knocked out in the group stages by Croatia.
And likewise, England’s declining cases began on July 19 — eight days after the Three Lions lost on penalties in an historic final against Italy.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, claimed it was ‘reasonable’ to expect England to follow a similar timescale to Scotland in terms of its fall in admissions as well — which would see hospitalisations drop by the end of the week.
He told MailOnline that while England may not see admissions fall on the ‘exact same day’ after their Euros exit as Scotland did, hospitalisations have already begun slowing.
But the vaccines roll-out is also bound to have an impact, after more than 70 per cent of adults have received both doses including the vast majority of the over-70s.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, said cases in age groups may already be even lower because the latest figures are ‘about a week out of date’.
He hinted infections were dropping slower in older people because they tend to catch the virus from younger age groups. There will be ‘some lag’ between the different groups, he said.
Dr Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute, said the drop in Covid cases in all age groups was ‘very good’.
He told MailOnline: ‘But the key thing will be to wait until Friday when we will get the next round of results from the ONS (Britain’s largest Covid surveillance study).
‘One would predict it may be less sensitive to changes in the populations being tested, for example those resulting from school closures, than the Department of Health figures.
‘If the two measures are going in the same direction we would seem to be in a good place… unless, of course, the unlocking of July 19 causes a reversal.’
Department of Health data showed Covid cases were falling fastest among adults in their twenties last week, down by 15 per cent for the week ending July 22 compared to the day before.
But among older adults the decline was more gradual, suggesting cases were only just starting to drop in the age group. Infection rates dropped by just one per cent in adults in their late 80s.
The figures — provided by the Department of Health — are based on the rolling seven-day infection rate for age groups.
It is based on data from the actual day positive Covid tests were taken, as opposed to when they were recorded. For this reason, the most up-to-date statistics are seven days old.
The drop in cases was revealed by comparing the average infections between July 21 and July 22, the latest dates available.
Comparing infection rates to the week before showed cases are falling among young people, but were higher in over-45s than they were a week ago.
Experts said this was to be expected because cases had only recently started falling in older age groups.
Across England adults in their early twenties had the highest infection rate (947 cases in the last seven days per 100,000 people), followed by adults in their late twenties (923) and early thirties (842).
For comparison, cases were lowest in adults in their late 80s (68), followed by adults in their early eighties (73), and over-90s (75).
Scientists say the drop off in Covid cases could be caused by schools closing, recent warm weather and Euro 2020 boosting immunity in young people. Graph shows: The drop off in infections in England after the end of Euro 2020
Quarantine rules to be dropped for fully-vaccinated travellers
Fully-vaccinated travellers from the EU and US are set to be spared quarantine after ministers signed off an exemption today.
The powerful ‘Covid O’ group is understood to have agreed that the self-isolation requirements can be dropped for some of the UK’s major trading partners.
Ex-pats who have received jabs abroad are also set to benefit from the dispensation, which takes effect from 4am Monday.
All will still need to get tests in a bid to reduce the risk that they are infected.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward. Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy.
‘We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme, we’re able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours.’
Experts today also claimed hospitalisations in England could start to fall by the end of the week.
Professor Hunter said: ‘I think it reasonable to assume that sometime in the next few days we may start to see a fall in new hospitalisations, maybe not the exact same day [as Scotland did after the Euros].
‘In fact if you look at the rate of increase in England admissions, it does look like the epidemic of admissions is slowing.
‘Data on hospital admissions are often somewhat delayed before publication and Scotland’s especially can be delayed for almost a full week.
‘Of course whether such a fall is sustained after the effect of Freedom Day works its way into the system is still the big question. We will know at the weekend.’
Scotland’s Covid admissions — based on the seven-day average — began falling on July 10, when they peaked at 87 per day.
It occurred a full 18 days after the national team left the Euros on June 22 and ten days after infections started to fall.
The country’s cases peaked at almost 4,000 on June 30, Government data also shows.
England’s cases have already followed the same trend, with the number of positive tests declining after the national team lost in the Euros.
If the country’s admissions follow the same trend, they would be likely to peak by the end of the week.
Despite being on the rise with more than 800 infected people still needing hospital treatment every day, Covid admissions already appear to be slowing down across England.
Data shows the week-on-week percentage change — which measures how quickly hospitalisations are going up —has fallen every day for a week.
Growth rates went from 37.9 per cent on June 15 to 23.1 per cent on June 22.
Only the North East and Yorkshire — the country’s current Covid hotspot — still has admissions that are rising at pace.
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