There are five reasons why a rise in Covid cases could be a major concern beyond Freedom Day, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser has warned.
Sir Patrick Vallance said more cases translates potentially to more hospitalisations and deaths, an increase in Long Covid, more variants, more people having to isolate and the testing process becoming overstretched.
He was speaking at tonight’s Downing Street briefing alongside Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, as well as Boris Johnson via video link.
The Prime Minister is currently self-isolating at Chequers after coming into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who has tested positive.
Sir Patrick also added that the timing of the next peak of the virus would be “uncertain” but that a plateau or decrease would hopefully be seen by the end of next month.
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He said: “The risks of high prevalence, high numbers of cases, are really four major risks.
“The first of course that that translates to some extent through to hospitalisations and deaths…That’s protected by the vaccine but not completely.
“The second is, of course, there will be an increased risk of long term complications, so-called Long Covid.
“The third is that high levels of infection, as the virus replicates it makes mistakes and those mistakes are what cause variants to occur.
“And the fourth is, because of high levels of infection you have a high number of people who are therefore pinged and off work and that affects the workforce,” he added.
Sir Patrick reiterated these are “four strong reasons for worrying about high infection rates” before adding another.
“A fifth is that the testing process, of course, becomes very stretched at high levels of infection,” he said.
Five major risks if cases see massive surge:
More hospitalisations and deaths
An increase in Long Covid
More variants emerging
More people having to isolate after being pinged by the NHS Covid app
The testing process becoming overstretched
Also at the briefing, he went on to say most of the scientific models are suggesting that there should be a peak before we start seeing some sort of either plateau or decrease over August.
“And at that point, if things continue to increase at the rate they are – and as I said at the outset, there is something like 50,000 or near 50,000 cases per day, or positives per day, at the moment being detected – with a doubling time of 11 days, you can see that that gets to pretty high numbers very quickly,” he said.
“And another doubling time will take you to even higher numbers, of course – that would be really quite, quite worrying.
“So we would like to see some flattening of this, some decrease in the trajectory, and ideally, as you rightly say, you’d like to see this coming down by September, as return of schools would add another pressure on top of that.”
England has officially entered its fourth stage of lockdown easing, with so-called ‘Freedom day’ marking the end of many restrictions imposed on the country for 18 months.
It will see the reopening of clubs and theatres and the law changed to guidance only when it comes to wearings masks.
Groups of more than six people from multiple households will be able to hang out indoors and outdoors.
It comes after the announcement that vulnerable children over age of 12 will get the Covid vaccine from tomorrow.
The first vaccinations of younger British children against Covid-19 are set to take place on Tuesday after the government confirmed a long-awaited plan.
Children aged 12 to 15 who are at increased risk of serious coronavirus disease will get the Pfizer jab if they and their parents consent.
The latest official figures show the number of confirmed cases has risen by 40 per cent in the last week.
A total of 39,950 new coronavirus cases have been recorded in the UK in the last 24-hour period.
The number of recorded deaths was 19, up 48 percent since last Monday.