UK could turn its back on the COVID pandemic by October
- The bulk of the coronavirus pandemic could be behind the UK by October
- UK COVID cases fall for the sixth consecutive day
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgrades UK economic forecasts
- Boris Johnson welcomes American and European travellers after easing COVID restrictions
- UK travel industry delighted by the end of “British vaccine exceptionalism”
Leading epidemiologist Neil Ferguson has said that Britain could turn its back on the coronavirus pandemic as early as September.
Professor Ferguson claimed that the positive outlook had been inspired by the UK’s world-leading vaccine rollout, which had proven successful in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalisations and deaths.
He added that with 37,459,060 UK adults fully vaccinated, “I’m positive that by late September, early October, we will be looking back at most of the pandemic.
“While the coronavirus is still present and people are still falling victim to the virus, the bulk of the COVID pandemic should be behind us in the next three months.”
It comes as official figures reveal that COVID cases declined for the sixth successive day on Wednesday, with caseloads down by more than 50% in London.
According to the latest statistics, coronavirus cases tumbled from a recent peak of 7,086 in the week commencing July 19th to 3,056 on July 26th.
Professor Ferguson, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), believes that the infection rate in Britain is now plateauing, albeit he still urged caution.
He warned ministers that a new peak could manifest following the final unlocking of the UK economy, especially as “contact rates” between people are still below pre-pandemic levels.
If we do not err on the side of caution, the UK infection rate could hit 100,000, possibly even 200,000 in a worst-case scenario, albeit he believes that is highly unlikely.
According to the latest government data, 23,511 cases were recorded yesterday, down from 24,950 on Monday and significantly lower than the 46,558 identified last Tuesday.
While figures show that COVID cases in Britain are following a downward trend, Professor Ferguson said it was still “too early to tell” whether or not Britain could avoid hitting the 100,000 mark. He went on to say that “it would take several weeks for the “end of lockdown effect” to materialise.
Experts have suggested that the decline in cases across London could result from the third wave in the capital reaching peak levels.
Other factors could include that school children are no longer doing lateral flow tests due to the summer holidays, people are on vacation, and individuals are withdrawing from testing methods amid the so-called “pingdemic.”
Professor Ferguson suggested that earlier spikes were triggered by the Euro 2020 fixtures, as large social gatherings tend to act as amplifiers of transmission.
Euro 2020 fuelled spike in UK COVID infection rate
Health experts said that rising coronavirus cases were driven by young people catching the disease during Euro 2020.
They noted that this could have helped flatten the most recent peak as most have developed some form of immunity if they are not vaccinated.
Ministers will closely monitor hospitalisations over the coming days; signs that admissions are dwindling could point towards a more lasting decline in the infection rate.
There were 957 coronavirus patients admitted to London hospitals on Monday – double reported in the week ending July 11th.
Two more deaths were recorded on Tuesday, taking the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 131 as of July 27th.
As of July 28th, 153,342 deaths have occurred in Britain, where COVID-19 has been mentioned as the cause on the death certificate.
Separate data from the University of Glasgow has also shown that those told to shield during the first wave of the virus in March 2020 were eight times more likely to become infected and five times more likely to die than now.
Still, Chief Executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said that hospitals are under the same pressure that they felt during the second wave of the virus in January due to the growing backlog of care and staff shortages amid the rise in self-isolation.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also issued warnings over the falling coronavirus cases, advising people not to jump to “premature conclusions”.
He acknowledged rising frustration stemming from the so-called “pingdemic”. Still, He urged the public to continue following rules on self-isolation if they receive notifications from the NHS Test and Trace app.
During a visit to Surrey Police HQ in Guildford on Wednesday, the UK PM stated: “While we are six days into better figures, we need to remain cautious. We mustn’t allow ourselves to run away with premature conclusions about the recent drop in COVID cases.
“The final unlocking of the UK economy only occurred a few days ago, and the UK government will continue to take a cautious approach until the results of ending the coronavirus lockdown are clear.
“It is still a perilous virus, and we need to continue using the tools available until the new test-to-release system comes into effect on August 16th.”
Still, Britain’s progressive COVID vaccine rollout is boosting the country’s economic prospects.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its forecasts for the UK economy, noting that differing access to vaccines has painted clear distinctions between the recovery outlook for poorer countries and wealthy nations.
IMF upgrades UK economic forecasts
According to the IMF, the Uk economy will grow faster than anticipated in 2021, courtesy of its successful coronavirus vaccination programme.
The IMF upgraded its forecasts for all advanced economies but downgraded growth for many developing countries due to challenges with accessing COVID vaccines.
The high percentage of fully vaccinated individuals in wealthy countries poses these nations for a more solid rebound as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain received the most significant upgrade and is now predicted to have the joint-fastest growth of any G7 leading prosperous nation.
UK Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak cheered signs that the British economy was rebounding faster than initially expected but noted that challenges to recovery remain.
He said the UK government would continue to focus on rebuilding the labour market by protecting and creating as many jobs as possible.
Health experts have also delivered warnings over the decline in responses to COVID-19 vaccine invitations, especially among younger people, as this age group is seeing the highest number of coronavirus cases.
A Sky News analysis found that the initially enthusiastic uptake for COVID jabs by young people has dwindled, noting that it will more than likely take longer for this demographic to reach the level of vaccination seen in older age groups.
According to Sky News, approximately two in five 18 to 29-year-olds have not received their first coronavirus jabs despite the programme opening up to this group on June 18th.
While their research shows that all age groups have seen uptake for COVID-19 vaccinations peter out, the younger groups have levelled off at a much lower rate, meaning that the total percentage of vaccinated individuals in this group is significantly lower.
UK government adviser Dr Raghib Ali said there were two reasons why the uptake in young people has declined:
- As most of this age group has already had the virus, they think they are immune
- The risks of developing severe symptoms are far lower in young people
Despite the concerning data, ministers continue to push ahead with plans to give Britons greater freedoms. Today, it emerged that the UK government is preparing to allow thousands of British expats into the country without being required to isolate for ten days.
UK government reopening quarantine free travel for the EU and US
A government source has confirmed that double jabbed travellers arriving into the UK from the European Union and the United States can avoid self-isolation measures.
According to the latest news, US citizens will need to present a vaccine card proving that they are fully vaccinated to border authorities. In contrast, European travellers will need to possess the EU’s “green pass” certificate to be exempted from quarantine.
The news was welcomed by the travel industry, which has lamented “British vaccine exceptionalism” in the face of financial hardship stemming from COVID border policies and international travel restrictions.
Senior Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, tweeted: “It only took the Prime Minister six weeks before he realised that Britain was lagging behind the EU and the US concerning reopening international travel. Better late than never.”
Downing Street delivered the announcement following a COVID Operations meeting between Cabinet ministers on Wednesday.