UK has one of the lowest Covid rates in Europe – even before we see benefits of 20m vaccine rollout, top expert says

THE UK has gone from being the “sick man of Europe” to having one of the lowest Covid rates.

A top expert noted this was even before the successful Covid vaccination programme had made an impact.

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Professor Tim Spector said the “main effects of 20 million vaccines” is yet to kick in.

The epidemiologist runs the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, which tracks the outbreak in the UK using data reported by app users.

He revealed on Twitter today that new cases of symptomatic Covid had dropped by 22 per cent in four days.

There are now less than 6,300 people picking up the disease, according to the app data up to March 4, down from the 8,111 on February 28.

Prof Spector said he was “optimistic” but added that June was a long way away.

June 21 is the date the Government plans to lift all Covid restrictions, subject to it being safe enough to do so.

Ministers will be measuring the impact of each step of easing lockdown before then, including schools reopening from today, allowing groups of six to meet outdoors on March 29, and the opening of hospitality in May.

There is still the possibility that cases and the R rate are too high to lift the rest of Covid rules in June.

But looking at the data so far, there is reason for hope.


Figures from Our World in Data show that the UK has 77.5 cases per million people.

The infection rate is several times smaller than in France (334.5), Spain (341.7) and Italy (342.8). 

Higher infection rates have been recorded in Germany (77.6), Denmark (88.6), Greece (109.6), and the Netherlands (266.4).

Norway is close to the UK, with 73 cases per 100,000.

JABS AWAY

It comes after the UK’s vaccination programme raced ahead of EU nations to give as many people the first dose of a jab as quickly as possible.

So far 22.2 million first doses and 1.1 million second doses have been administered – or 34 people in 100, according to Our World in Data.

The EU has given only nine in every 100 people a vaccine dose – with higher rates in Denmark (12), Norway (11) and Greece (10). 


 

The European Commission made a mess of buying vaccine supplies in advance, while making a number of accusations against AstraZeneca to justify its slow vaccination rollout. 

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, admitted last month that the EU was "not where it wanted to be" on vaccinations.

Meanwhile, many European countries had restricted use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in elderly people, requesting more data to prove it works.


Last week a top vaccine expert said European countries should “get on” with using the jab in over 65s to save lives.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “In the short term, the job’s done in the UK.”

Research has started to show the impact of the start of the vaccine rollout – which is currently inviting people in their late 50s.

Hospital admissions, cases and deaths have fallen quicker in people in their 80s – who were first to get their jab in December and January.

 

Daily Covid deaths in the UK dropped below 100 for the first time since on October 19 on Sunday.

A total of 82 deaths were reported by the Government.

Last week hospital inpatients also dropped below 10,000 in England for the first time since November.

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