Britain’s daily Covid deaths fall by two-thirds in a week – while cases plunge by 40%

Britain’s daily coronavirus deaths have fallen by two-thirds in a week while cases have plunged by another 40 per cent, official figures revealed today.

Department of Health bosses recorded another 2,379 positive Covid tests, with the rolling seven-day average for infections now at the lowest levels since mid-September.

And 20 victims were added to the official tally, meaning the UK has now gone a fortnight without registering over 100 daily deaths.

The promising figures came as Boris Johnson today insisted England still on track to end lockdown by summer, as the Prime Minister faces mounting pressure to relax restrictions sooner.

He said that he couldn’t ‘see any reason for us to deviate from the road map’, which will see all legal restrictions on social contacts abolished by June 21 as part of the final phase of the four-step route out of the crisis.

But critics have accused the PM of using ‘Project Fear’ tactics and doomsday scenarios to prolong restrictions by stealth, with plans for controversial vaccine passports, testing twice a week and masks for another year.

Hopes of speeding up the relaxation of restrictions were dealt a hammer blow by gloomy SAGE modelling, which yesterday warned that going faster than planned would inevitably lead to more deaths. No10’s advisers warned a third wave is inevitable when lockdown is relaxed in mid-June. 

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • SAGE’s doomsday models which predicted more than a thousand coronavirus deaths at the peak of a third wave later in the year cherry-picked ‘very pessimistic assumptions’, scientists warned;
  • One of the European drug regulator’s senior officials claimed there is now a ‘clear’ link between AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine and potentially deadly blood clots;
  • No10 may have to roll back its target date for vaccinating all adults if AstraZeneca’s jab is banned for under-30s, an expert claimed;
  • Boris Johnson’s plans for domestic vaccine passports are in jeopardy after it was claimed Sir Keir Starmer and Labour will oppose the rollout of the documents;
  • Aviation bosses lashed out at the PM’s traffic light scheme for resuming international travel as they warned requiring travellers from ‘green list’ countries to be tested twice will price many people out of holidays abroad.

No10’s own forecasts show that any third wave of Covid this summer is likely to be manageable — but there has been widespread alarm at worst-case models which predicted thousands of Covid deaths a day after restrictions are lifted completely in June.

Independent experts told MailOnline the data used by the Government’s scientific advisers ‘did not match’ how well the vaccine rollout is going and played down how effective the jabs are — and at least one was ‘very confident the NHS is not going to be overwhelmed’.

Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist, said SAGE had repeatedly made bleak forecasts that never came true, ‘perhaps to avoid complacency’ among the public. 

The gloomiest modelling was done by the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine, which forecast ‘a resurgence in admissions and deaths comparable to the magnitude of the second wave in January’, when there were more than 1,000 deaths a day. Its pessimistic model assumed the AstraZeneca vaccine only reduced transmission – the number of people who continue to spread Covid – by 30 per cent, which is far more cautious than data from the real world suggests.

LSHTM'S HOSPITALISATIONS: The group has said that in a worst case scenario there could be more than 40,000 patients in Britain's hospitals with the virus every day. The most realistic situation will see levels on par with the winter peak, according to the team. They warned a third wave of admissions could be even larger if there is a British outbreak of a new Covid variant which makes vaccines weaker

LSHTM'S HOSPITALISATIONS: The group has said that in a worst case scenario there could be more than 40,000 patients in Britain's hospitals with the virus every day. The most realistic situation will see levels on par with the winter peak, according to the team. They warned a third wave of admissions could be even larger if there is a British outbreak of a new Covid variant which makes vaccines weaker

LSHTM’S HOSPITALISATIONS: The group has said that in a worst case scenario there could be more than 40,000 patients in Britain’s hospitals with the virus every day. The most realistic situation will see levels on par with the winter peak, according to the team. They warned a third wave of admissions could be even larger if there is a British outbreak of a new Covid variant which makes vaccines weaker

Modelling by Imperial College London shows how they expect daily deaths to stay below 100 in any third wave, if vaccine uptake is 90 per cent in under-50s and that jabs cause a significant reduction in transmission after the planned relaxation on June 21. The solid red line shows the actual number of daily deaths recorded, while the lighter line reflects the team's best guess and the pink line is what could happen in the worst-case scenario

Modelling by Imperial College London shows how they expect daily deaths to stay below 100 in any third wave, if vaccine uptake is 90 per cent in under-50s and that jabs cause a significant reduction in transmission after the planned relaxation on June 21. The solid red line shows the actual number of daily deaths recorded, while the lighter line reflects the team's best guess and the pink line is what could happen in the worst-case scenario

Modelling by Imperial College London shows how they expect daily deaths to stay below 100 in any third wave, if vaccine uptake is 90 per cent in under-50s and that jabs cause a significant reduction in transmission after the planned relaxation on June 21. The solid red line shows the actual number of daily deaths recorded, while the lighter line reflects the team’s best guess and the pink line is what could happen in the worst-case scenario

IMPERIAL’S HOSPITALISATIONS: Most scientists told MailOnline the most realistic assumptions were those made by the team at Imperial College London. The team’s most-likely scenario also estimated that coronavirus patients will take up 5,000 hospital beds during any future spike, far lower than the 30,000 occupied during the darkest days of January

Modelling by Warwick University - which also feeds into SAGE - has deaths peaking at between 250 and 750 in August, but they have already been forced to radically revise their death toll downwards after their assumptions about vaccine efficacy proved too pessimistic. The model was based on an R rate of around 3 and vaccine coverage of 90 per cent of adults under-50

Modelling by Warwick University - which also feeds into SAGE - has deaths peaking at between 250 and 750 in August, but they have already been forced to radically revise their death toll downwards after their assumptions about vaccine efficacy proved too pessimistic. The model was based on an R rate of around 3 and vaccine coverage of 90 per cent of adults under-50

Modelling by Warwick University – which also feeds into SAGE – has deaths peaking at between 250 and 750 in August, but they have already been forced to radically revise their death toll downwards after their assumptions about vaccine efficacy proved too pessimistic. The model was based on an R rate of around 3 and vaccine coverage of 90 per cent of adults under-50

During a visit to an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine plant in Cheshire today, Boris Johnson insisted the country is still on track to end lockdown by summer

During a visit to an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine plant in Cheshire today, Boris Johnson insisted the country is still on track to end lockdown by summer

During a visit to an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine plant in Cheshire today, Boris Johnson insisted the country is still on track to end lockdown by summer

The TRUTH about those doomsday SAGE models

SAGE’s doomsday models which predicted more than a thousand coronavirus deaths at the peak of a third wave later in the year cherry-picked ‘very pessimistic assumptions’, scientists warned today.

Independent experts told MailOnline the data used by the Government’s scientific advisers ‘didn’t match’ how well the vaccine rollout is going and played down how effective the jabs are – and at least one was ‘very confident the NHS is not going to be overwhelmed’.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, said SAGE had repeatedly made bleak forecasts that never came true, ‘perhaps to avoid complacency’ among the public.

The government was yesterday accused of using ‘Project Fear’ tactics to prolong coronavirus restrictions by stealth with plans for mass twice-weekly testing, vaccine passports and foreign travel restrictions.

But No10’s own forecasts show that any third wave of Covid this summer is likely to be manageable, and models that caused widespread alarm were worst-case nightmare scenarios based on ineffective vaccines.

Yesterday a tranche of papers released by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) suggested that lifting curbs fully in June could cause push the NHS to the brink again.

The expert group included modelling from three different universities – Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Warwick University.

After reviewing all three papers, SAGE said social distancing, mask wearing and Covid vaccine passports will need to remain in place for at least another year to keep the virus in check even when the most brutal curbs are lifted.

It added that while the vaccines prevent the vast majority of people from falling ill and dying from coronavirus, they ‘are not good enough’ to see all curbs lifted ‘without a big epidemic’. 

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Yesterday a tranche of papers released by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) suggested that lifting curbs fully in June could cause push the NHS to the brink again.

The expert group included modelling from three different universities — Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Warwick University.

After reviewing all three papers, SAGE said baseline measures would need to remain in place for at least another year to keep the virus in check even when the most brutal curbs are lifted.

It added that while the vaccines prevent the vast majority of people from falling ill and dying from coronavirus, they ‘are not good enough’ to see all curbs lifted ‘without a big epidemic’.

The gloomiest modelling was done by the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine, which forecast ‘a resurgence in admissions and deaths comparable to the magnitude of the second wave in January’, when there were more than 1,000 deaths a day.

The LSHTM research team warned a third wave could be even larger if there is a British outbreak of a new Covid variant which makes vaccines weaker.

But their pessimistic model assumed the AstraZeneca vaccine only reduced transmission — the number of people who continue to spread Covid — by 30 per cent, which is more cautious than data from the real world suggests.

The Government’s own analysis of Britain’s vaccine roll-out, carried out by Public Health England, revealed the jab slashes infections by about two thirds after just one dose and more than 70 per cent after both injections.

Professor Spector, who is running a major Covid symptom tracking study tracking a million Brits, slammed LSHTM’s modelling. 

He said that while there may be small outbreaks of Covid in the future, ‘we’re not going to see anything like we’ve seen previously’ now that half the adult population has been immunised.

Dr Raghib Ali, a clinical epidemiologist at Cambridge University and former Government Covid adviser, told MailOnline that despite the gloomy forecasts, ‘we can be very confident the NHS is not going to be overwhelmed… I’m optimistic we will be able to follow the road map’.

During a visit to an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine plant in Cheshire today, the PM said: ‘I just think it’s important we take each step on the road map as it comes and continue to roll out the vaccine, build up our defences, build up the natural resistance of our whole population in the way that we are and then continue to look at the data in the intervals that we’ve set out.

‘So we are going to see exactly what happens from the April 12 to May 17 openings and thereafter through to June 21. At the moment, as I look at all the data, I can’t see any reason for us to deviate from the road map that we have set out, we are sticking to it.’

He said several other countries were also looking at ‘the role of vaccination passports for overseas travel’, which was ‘going to be a fact of life, probably’.

It came as Tory MPs accused the Government of opening the door to prolonged Covid restrictions by releasing a tranche of SAGE papers suggesting that lifting curbs fully in June could cause thousands of Covid deaths a day in the summer.

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