One in six of all Covid cases recorded in the UK have come since “Freedom Day”.
Analysis of coronavirus infections and deaths since July 17, when restrictions designed to stop the disease’s spread were lifted, shows the damage still being done by the virus.
More than 2.8 million people have tested positive for Covid, a sixth of all UK cases since the pandemic began.
Despite the remarkable effectiveness of the vaccine, 9,397 people have lost their lives to the disease since July 17.
That is the equivalent of more than 100 a day.
The UK is now the hardest hit country in Europe in terms of daily infections, logging 10,000 a day more than Russia despite having less than half the number of people.
With such a high number of cases and daily deaths now consistently coming in at above 100, the prospect of a bleak winter ahead is looking ever more likely.
Scientists have long been warning that pressure on the NHS could reach critical levels this winter if the virus is allowed to continue spreading unchecked.
After the Prime Minister announced his plan to get through winter without another lockdown, microbiologist Simon Clarke, associate professor at the University of Reading, warned things could get nasty.
“With such very high numbers of community infections, things could get out of hand very quickly and it may prove impossible to close the stable door before the horse bolts,” he told the Independent.
Analysis of the coronavirus situation in the UK before and after July 17 shows how much of an impact restrictions and the vaccines have had on the disease.
In the 622 days since the first two Covid cases were confirmed in the UK to now, 8,272,883 positive tests have been returned.
In the 89 days since so called Freedom Day, 2,886,543 infections were logged.
That means 32,433 cases were recorded on average every day since July 17, compared to 10,105 for each day before then.
In the same 89 day period, 105 people lost their lives daily, while 259 died each day from January 2020 to that point.
The fact that the Covid case rate has gone up while deaths and hospitalisations remain steady – at least compared to last year – shows how remarkably effective the vaccine is.
The jabs have also had a positive impact on hospitalizations.
Since “Freedom Day” the virus has hospitalised 71,642 people – 804 a day – compared to 510,097 or 857 daily before then.
As much as death and hospitalisation rates are better, the country is by no means out of the woods yet.
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the medical journal the Lancet, has warned that scrapping restrictions and all but dismantling the travel traffic light system could lead to damaging variants entering the country.
“We let Delta in because we didn’t have good border controls,” the fellow of the Royal College of Physicians told The Mirror.
“The only way to detect variants is taking samples through PCR tests, if we don’t detect variants we are at risk of being overrun by a new one.
U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers)
“We are flying blind as the pandemic rages globally. The lesson is, if you look at every country, their failures have been because they did too little too late.”
At the end of September Johnson said he planned to get the country through winter without a lockdown.
If hospitalisations and deaths get to an unspecified but unmanageable level, then a “plan B” will be put into force.
That could see mandatory face masks, Covid passports and guidance to work from home reintroduced.
In recent months the UK has struck out on a markedly different path from similarly sized European nations.
Germany is pressuring the unvaccinated to get jabbed by requiring Covid passports or expensive tests to enter many public spaces, and has removed financial support for the unprotected who need to quarantine.
In addition, quarantine is required for non-jabbed travellers entering Germany.
The country is currently logging less than 10,000 cases a day and around 50 deaths.
France, which has tight restrictions for the non-vaccinated and a 75% double jabbed rate, is suffering less than 5,000 cases a day.
Now the UK is at a 12 week high in terms of daily cases and is at 63% of its infection peak.
These figures has been driven by the removal of restrictions including public mask mandates and most social distancing measures.
While coronavirus may be impacting far fewer of our lives on a day-to-day basis than it did during the long months of lockdown, if figures continue to tick up then government may be forced to take action.
Medics have been sounding the alarm about the coming winter months, with 36% of 800 NHS doctors polled saying the health service was unprepared for what’s coming.
The Royal College of Physicians found that 27% of doctors felt personally unprepared, and almost two-thirds said they were feeling tired or exhausted.
They could find themselves backed against the wall for months if seasonal flu continues to bite as the current Covid trends continue.
Flu and other common cold viruses that have been suppressed by lockdowns are “bouncing back” and “becoming quite aggressive”, Professor Peter Openshaw, a virus expert at Imperial College London, has said.
He urged people to get the flu jab this winter, saying it is “very, very important that people do take the flu vaccine if they are offered it”.