Covid cases in the UK fell by 9% last week to dip below 50,000 a day, symptom-tracking app claims

The number of people falling ill with Covid each day in Britain fell by nine per cent last week, according to one of the country’s biggest surveillance projects.

King’s College London researchers behind a symptom-tracking app estimated 47,276 cases were occurring daily in the week up to September 11. This marked the first time the team’s estimate, closely watched by ministers, had dipped below 50,000 a day since mid-August. 

In England, academics estimated cases had fallen by nine per cent, mirroring a trend seen in the official testing data collated by the Government.

It offers more proof that the country has still yet to suffer a Scotland-style spike in cases following the return of millions of pupils to schools, despite gloomy warnings that a sizeable uptick was inevitable. Children have now been back in classrooms for over a fortnight. 

King’s researchers, who work alongside health-tech firm ZOE, also estimated cases had fallen by around 13 per cent in Scotland, which saw daily infections spiral to a record-high in the wake of schools returning. 

Professor Tim Spector, who runs the study, warned Covid levels remain high in the country, and that face masks and social distancing should be brought back in to help control the spread of the virus.

Boris Johnson is hoping to rely on booster vaccines and jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds to keep the virus in check this winter, but has admitted face masks and WFH guidance could be brought back if Covid hospitalisations spiral out of control.  

The Covid Symptom Study estimated 47,276 people in the UK were catching the virus every day in the week to September 11. This was a drop of nine per cent on the same time the previous week

The Covid Symptom Study estimated 47,276 people in the UK were catching the virus every day in the week to September 11. This was a drop of nine per cent on the same time the previous week

The Covid Symptom Study estimated 47,276 people in the UK were catching the virus every day in the week to September 11. This was a drop of nine per cent on the same time the previous week

King's College London scientists and experts from health data science company ZOE found cases were rising among 0 to 18-year-olds, but falling in all other age groups

King's College London scientists and experts from health data science company ZOE found cases were rising among 0 to 18-year-olds, but falling in all other age groups

King’s College London scientists and experts from health data science company ZOE found cases were rising among 0 to 18-year-olds, but falling in all other age groups

When breaking the country down by regions they found that cases were remaining flat in most areas. Infections fell in the Midlands, South East, London, East of England and South West last week, they said

When breaking the country down by regions they found that cases were remaining flat in most areas. Infections fell in the Midlands, South East, London, East of England and South West last week, they said

When breaking the country down by regions they found that cases were remaining flat in most areas. Infections fell in the Midlands, South East, London, East of England and South West last week, they said

Separate figures from Test and Trace suggested Covid cases rose nine per cent last week, after it recorded more than 205,000 cases in the week to September 8

Separate figures from Test and Trace suggested Covid cases rose nine per cent last week, after it recorded more than 205,000 cases in the week to September 8

Separate figures from Test and Trace suggested Covid cases rose nine per cent last week, after it recorded more than 205,000 cases in the week to September 8

The above graph shows Covid cases among people who have received two doses of the Covid vaccine (red line) and the population (blue line). Almost 90 per cent of over-16s have already received one dose of the jab

The above graph shows Covid cases among people who have received two doses of the Covid vaccine (red line) and the population (blue line). Almost 90 per cent of over-16s have already received one dose of the jab

The above graph shows Covid cases among people who have received two doses of the Covid vaccine (red line) and the population (blue line). Almost 90 per cent of over-16s have already received one dose of the jab

Almost 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds now have Covid antibodies, data says 

Nearly nine in 10 people in the UK aged 16 to 24 have Covid antibodies, according to official estimates.

The Office for National Statistics, which carried out blood tests on youngsters across the UK’s four nations, found between 87 and 89 per cent of them had antibodies that help fight the virus.

The presence of coronavirus antibodies suggests someone has been infected in the past or has been vaccinated.

However, they are not a perfect measure of whether a person is protected against Covid, as other parts of the immune response are involved in fighting the virus, such a T-cells.

The steady increase seen across the UK has coincided with the rollout of Covid vaccine to younger age groups.

First doses of vaccine have been available to teenagers aged 16 and 17 for several weeks, while all over-18s have been eligible for a jab since June.

And with the first over-12s being given the vaccine from September 22, a similar surge in antibodies could be seen among this age group.

But levels are falling among older age groups, who were the first to get the jab when the rollout began last December.

Ministers hope its booster programme for over-50s, vulnerable Britons and frontline health workers, will keep immunity high heading into winter. 

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Professor Spector said: ‘Sticking to the classic three ignores the fact that now most people experience symptoms like sore throat, headache and sneezing rather than fever or cough. 

‘I also don’t understand why we are waiting for the situation to get worse and the NHS is pressured further before implementing simple measures that would help to bring down the number of new cases and save lives. 

‘With such high levels of virus in the population we should also still be wearing masks and keeping our distance in crowded public places, as in major European cities where cases are much lower than ours.’

He also criticised the decision not to expand the Covid symptom list — which only recognises a loss of taste and smell, cough, and high temperature as symptoms of the virus.

Experts have previously warned that the symptom study — also run by health data company ZOE — is becoming less reliable because vaccination has meant it is unable to pick out Covid infections from other viruses.

Yesterday Britain recorded another 30,597 positive tests, down more than a fifth on the same time last week.

This marked the seventh day in a row that cases had fallen week-on-week, and the decline was mostly driven by a drop in infections in England and Scotland according to the Government’s own data. 

England has still yet to suffer a Scotland-style spike in cases following the return of millions of pupils to schools, despite gloomy warnings that a sizeable uptick was inevitable. Children have now been back in classrooms for over a fortnight.

Latest hospitalisation data showed another 836 people infected with the virus were admitted for NHS treatment on September 11, down a tenth from the previous Saturday.

There were also another 201 Covid deaths recorded today, up 5 per cent from the same time last week.

Both figures lag several weeks behind cases because of how long it can take for infected patients to fall seriously ill. 

Ministers have kept a close eye on the two metrics since the roll-out of vaccines, with the jabs having drastically cut the risk the disease poses.  

Amid fears of a tough few months ahead in the fight against Covid, Boris Johnson yesterday unveiled a winter plan for avoiding another lockdown at a Downing Street press conference, but said that thanks to vaccines the country was in an ‘incomparably’ better place.

In phase one, the country will roll out booster vaccines to over-50s and offer jabs to over-12s to help keep the lid on the virus. 

But if the NHS comes under ‘unsustainable’ pressure then the Prime Minister will opt for ‘plan B’, which may see the return of face coverings in some settings, the reintroduction of WFH guidance, and Covid passports imposed on nightclubs and large events.

In England, 88.7 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds have Covid antibodies, according to estimates from the ONS based on a random sample of the population (green lines). Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are similar. And all four nations are seeing a drop in antibody levels among older people, who were the first to be offered the vaccine earlier this year. The graphs also show that antibodies levels coincide with the different age groups getting the vaccine (light and dark blue lines), with rates among young people rising in recent months, while there was a much sharper increase among older people earlier this year when they were offered Covid vaccines

In England, 88.7 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds have Covid antibodies, according to estimates from the ONS based on a random sample of the population (green lines). Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are similar. And all four nations are seeing a drop in antibody levels among older people, who were the first to be offered the vaccine earlier this year. The graphs also show that antibodies levels coincide with the different age groups getting the vaccine (light and dark blue lines), with rates among young people rising in recent months, while there was a much sharper increase among older people earlier this year when they were offered Covid vaccines

In England, 88.7 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds have Covid antibodies, according to estimates from the ONS based on a random sample of the population (green lines). Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are similar. And all four nations are seeing a drop in antibody levels among older people, who were the first to be offered the vaccine earlier this year. The graphs also show that antibodies levels coincide with the different age groups getting the vaccine (light and dark blue lines), with rates among young people rising in recent months, while there was a much sharper increase among older people earlier this year when they were offered Covid vaccines

The graph shows the proportion of over-16s in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland who tested positive for Covid antibodies between December 7 and August 23. Rates were highest in England (93.6 per cent), followed by Scotland (93.3 per cent), Northern Ireland (91.9 per cent) and Wales (91.2 per cent). The graphs also show the proportion of the population who have received at least one vaccine (light blue line) and two jabs (dark blue line)

The graph shows the proportion of over-16s in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland who tested positive for Covid antibodies between December 7 and August 23. Rates were highest in England (93.6 per cent), followed by Scotland (93.3 per cent), Northern Ireland (91.9 per cent) and Wales (91.2 per cent). The graphs also show the proportion of the population who have received at least one vaccine (light blue line) and two jabs (dark blue line)

 The graph shows the proportion of over-16s in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland who tested positive for Covid antibodies between December 7 and August 23. Rates were highest in England (93.6 per cent), followed by Scotland (93.3 per cent), Northern Ireland (91.9 per cent) and Wales (91.2 per cent). The graphs also show the proportion of the population who have received at least one vaccine (light blue line) and two jabs (dark blue line)

The ONS modelled the percentage of adults who have Covid antibodies based on blood samples taken across the four UK nations and in different age groups. In England and Scotland, antibody levels were the highest among younger groups who have more recently been given the jabs, while figures for Wales and Northern Ireland were less certain (shown through wider black lines, indicating less confidence around the figures). But lower levels of antibodies was spotted older age groups across each country

The ONS modelled the percentage of adults who have Covid antibodies based on blood samples taken across the four UK nations and in different age groups. In England and Scotland, antibody levels were the highest among younger groups who have more recently been given the jabs, while figures for Wales and Northern Ireland were less certain (shown through wider black lines, indicating less confidence around the figures). But lower levels of antibodies was spotted older age groups across each country

The ONS modelled the percentage of adults who have Covid antibodies based on blood samples taken across the four UK nations and in different age groups. In England and Scotland, antibody levels were the highest among younger groups who have more recently been given the jabs, while figures for Wales and Northern Ireland were less certain (shown through wider black lines, indicating less confidence around the figures). But lower levels of antibodies was spotted older age groups across each country

Life expectancy falls to lowest level in a DECADE due to Covid pandemic 

Life expectancy in England reached its lowest level in a decade because of the Covid pandemic, official figures have revealed.

Public Health England (PHE) claimed the ‘very high level’ of excess deaths in 2020 caused by the pandemic saw life expectancy in men to drop by 1.3 years to 78.7. For women, the rate dropped 0.9 years to 82.7.

This is the lowest since 2011 for both genders, according to the Government agency’s Health Profile for England report.

And the gap in how long people live based on deprivation reached the highest ever recorded, which it said demonstrated that the pandemic ‘exacerbated existing inequalities’.

Men living in the least deprived areas can expect to live a decade longer than those in the run-down boroughs, while the difference for women is 8.5 years.

And there was differences across the country, with London seeing the biggest fall in life expectancy. The South West and East of England saw the smallest drops.

Since the virus hit the UK last year, almost 120,000 people in England have died within 28 days of testing positive for the Covid.

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It comes as official estimates suggest today that nearly nine in 10 people in the UK aged 16 to 24 have Covid antibodies. 

The Office for National Statistics, which carried out blood tests on youngsters across the UK’s four nations, found between 87 and 89 per cent of them had antibodies that help fight the virus. 

The presence of coronavirus antibodies suggests someone has been infected in the past or has been vaccinated.

However, they are not a perfect measure of whether a person is protected against Covid, as other parts of the immune response are involved in fighting the virus, such a T-cells.

The steady increase seen across the UK has coincided with the rollout of Covid vaccine to younger age groups.

First doses of vaccine have been available to teenagers aged 16 and 17 for several weeks, while all over-18s have been eligible for a jab since June.

And with the first over-12s being given the vaccine from September 22, a similar surge in antibodies could be seen among this age group.

But levels are falling among older age groups, who were the first to get the jab when the rollout began last December. 

Antibodies are proteins that the immune system makes in response to any virus in order to help the body fight if off in future.

It takes two to three weeks for them to develop after either catching the virus or getting vaccinated. 

They then remain in the blood – helping to stop someone getting the same infection again and suppress severe symptoms if they do – but drop over time.

But testing positive for antibodies does not make someone completely immune, and people who have them can still get sick. 

Scientists say antibody levels dip naturally after peaking in the weeks following an infection or first vaccine, and people may not have detectable levels of antibodies now — even if they did so earlier in the year. 

And people who test negative for antibodies may still be protected — there are other types of ways the immune system can fight off pathogens. 

But the dipping levels of antibodies add to a growing body of research that suggests protection from vaccines wanes over time.

This led officials to announce this week that vulnerable Britons will be offered booster vaccines from six months after their second jab. 

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