The number of Britons falling ill with Covid every day has jumped to the highest level since January, according to the UK’s largest symptom-tracking study.
King’s College London scientists estimated 66,033 people were getting infected daily in the week ending October 2, up 13.6 per cent from 58,126 the week before.
Cases in children appear to be turning a corner but are still extremely high, with around one in 30 school pupils contracting the virus — nearly three times more than the next highest rate in 35 to 55-year-olds.
Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist who leads the study, argued allowing Covid to ‘run rampant’ in schools was ‘a real gamble’. He said he hoped that ‘herd immunity will kick in and cases will drop’ in children soon.
It came as new Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi admitted that face masks could make a return in schools this winter if cases show no sign of slowing down.
Department of Health data also shows positive tests were still falling last week, with official case numbers only picking up for the first time in six days yesterday.
The Government’s Covid dashboard showed there were 39,851 new positive tests yesterday, up 8.5 per cent on last Wednesday’s count of 36,722. It was the largest daily toll since September 6 (41,192).
The number of Britons falling ill with Covid jumped by nearly 14 per cent last week up to their highest level since January, according to a symptom-tracking study
Cases fell in 95 out of 149 local authorities, with the biggest drop offs seen in Swindon (47 per cent), South Gloucestershire (47 per cent) and West Berkshire (40 per cent). Map shows: The percentage change in case rates in authorities across in England during the weeks ending September 26 (left) and October 2 (right)
All regions but Scotland, are currently experiencing a rise in cases, particularly the Midlands. Cases are falling in Scotland
PHE data suggests case rates fell in all age groups other than 40- to 49-year-olds (increased by 1.3 per cent), 50- to 59-year-olds (5.5 per cent) and 70- to 79-year-olds (4.1 per cent)
Two Covid vaccines give BETTER protection than natural immunity, study claims
Covid vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity, researchers have claimed.
The true extent of immunity against the coronavirus remains shrouded in mystery.
Some studies have suggested getting infected naturally offers more protection than any vaccines.
But Britain’s biggest coronavirus symptom-tracking app has now come down in the favour of jabs.
Experts at King’s College London and health-tech firm ZOE, which run the software, say natural infection on its own stops 65 per cent of people from catching the virus again.
But two doses of AstraZeneca were found to be slightly better, with efficacy sitting at around 71 per cent. Pfizer’s was even stronger, with the double-dose course offering around 80 per cent protection after six months.
Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist behind the app, said: ‘Regardless of which vaccine is administered, this research shows having a natural Covid infection before double vaccination does mean greater protection.’
The ZOE Covid Study figures are based on data from 44,958 recent swab tests done between September 18 and October 2. The app has nearly 750,000 weekly contributors in total.
It estimated that around 30,000 children under the age of 18 caught the virus each day on average last week, which was down slightly on the previous seven days. The data suggests cases might have peaked in the age group.
The study said around 14,000 adults aged 35 to 55-year-olds were contracting Covid every day at the start of the month, a number which has been rising since the middle of September, after the start of the new school term.
Cases were low and stable in people over the age of 50, at just over 4,000.
It is estimated one in 30 children aged between 10 and 19 currently have Covid. Out of the four home nations, only Scotland is seeing a national fall in cases.
Professor Spector said: ‘While Covid may be less severe in children, allowing Covid to run rampant among them is a real gamble.
‘With more than one in 30 older school-children now infected and as we predicted numbers rising, many will not escape long-term symptoms.
‘These are the highest rates since January 2021. Without vaccination or restrictions in this group, we can only hope that some kind of herd immunity will kick in and cases will drop.
He added: ‘The good news this week is our latest research shows having a natural Covid infection before double vaccination means greater protection.
‘This is really positive news for overall immunity levels in the UK and means that large numbers of people will have effective and long lasting protection from Covid.
‘The evidence supports the need for vaccination, even for those who have already had Covid.
‘We need to be less complacent and without restrictions much more focus needs to be put on getting everyone vaccinated before winter to keep up with other countries’ efforts.’
Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency’s latest surveillance report today showing the number of Covid cases fell by three per cent last week.
The data is based on official testing whereas the King’s College London/ZOE study is derived from symptoms and is more up-to-date.
Coronavirus cases fell in 95 out of 149 authorities, with the biggest drop offs seen in Swindon (47 per cent), South Gloucestershire (47 per cent) and West Berkshire (40 per cent).
Two areas saw infections jump by more than 30 per cent: Halton in Cheshire (31 per cent) and Trafford, Greater Manchester (35 per cent).
Case rates fell in all age groups other than 40- to 49-year-olds (increased by 1.3 per cent), 50- to 59-year-olds (5.5 per cent) and 70- to 79-year-olds (4.1 per cent).
The biggest drop off was in children aged five to nine, where the case rate fell 14 per cent from 555 per 100,000 to 475 per 100,000.
Department of Health data yesterday revealed Covid hospitalisations increased 1.1 per cent to 666 on Saturday, the latest date data is available for.
It was the first time in 20 days the number of daily admissions had increased week-on-week.
But the number of people dying within 28 days of a positive test has continued to fall, with 143 fatalities recorded today.
Deaths were down 4.7 per cent on the 150 recorded last Wednesday, marking the twelfth day in a row the number of victims fell week-on-week.