The link between coronavirus cases, hospital admissions, and deaths has been broken thanks to the UK’s speedy and efficient vaccination program, a senior National Health Service (NHS) figure said on Wednesday.
Speaking on the Time Radio show, Chris Hopson, the chief executive of the NHS Providers, said age demographics have shifted since the start of the vaccination program and that hospitals are now seeing younger groups being admitted as opposed to their elder counterparts during the peak of the pandemic earlier this year, attributing this change to the country’s vaccination drive.
“What chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they’re seeing what they believe is significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures,” Hopson said.
“So it’s not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it’s actually the level of harm and clinical risk. It’s important not to just focus on the raw numbers here … you also do need to look at who’s being admitted into hospital and how clinically vulnerable and what level of acuity they’ve got,” the chief executive added.
Despite the new announcement, however, infection rates continue to rise across the country and more specifically in northern England. On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics released a study that estimated eight in 10 adults in England were likely to have tested positive for the virus beginning month. In Wales, the figure stood at 83%, with Scotland at 73%, and Northern Ireland at 80%.
The rising number of cases, brought by the spread of the highly transmissible Indian variant, has raised concerns among many in the government and scientific community with growing calls for No.10 to delay the final lifting of restrictions on June 21 and focus its energies in containing the spread and prioritizing vaccinations for the areas hardest hit.
“The prime minister is reviewing the data, and more data is coming in, which is very important. We created this five-week period between the stages of the roadmap and that has actually proved invaluable on this occasion because it’s a finely balanced decision,” Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News.
“I think a lot of people are coming to the conclusion, perfectly understandably, that this isn’t a normal summer – opportunities for international travel are going to be more limited, and so why not enjoy everything that this country has to offer this summer?” Jenrick added.
The government has launched a surge testing and vaccination scheme in northern England, where there has been a marked rise in infections. In the cities of Bolton, Manchester, and the Midlands region of Calderdale, people have been urged to get tested and receive both doses of the vaccine. Local populations have also been advised not to travel to other areas of the country in a bid to stop the spread.
On Tuesday, 7,540 new COVID-19 cases were recorded and on June 3-9, some 41,889 people tested positive for the virus. This rise in infections represents an increase of 66% when compared to the previous week. Six more deaths were also registered on Tuesday – a 43.5% drop.
By the end of June 8, over 40 million people had received a first dose of the vaccine with over 28 million a second dose. Jabs are currently administered in two doses three weeks apart.
The R range for the UK has increased and now stands at 1.0 to 1.2, with the current growth rate also rising to 0% to +3% per day. The R number is a mechanism used to rate the virus’s ability to spread, with R being the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.