THE FALL in Covid cases has started to stall in some parts of the UK, data suggests, amid the Government’s assessment of when to lift the lockdown.
Scientists called the trend a “hitch” after seeing a decline in cases for five weeks running.
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Data suggests the fall in Covid cases has started to stall ahead of the Government’s lifting of lockdown blueprint. Pictured: A London street sign saying “IS IT OVER YET?”, Kensal Rise, 17 FebruaryCredit: © 2021 Joshua Bratt
In a worrying twist, infections may even be on the rise in some areas.
The data comes from the ZOE Covid Symptom study app with Kings College London (KCL).
Millions of Brits report to the app if they suffer symptoms of the virus, as well as if they have had a test or a vaccine.
Professor Tim Spector, a KCL epidemiologist and study lead, revealed the latest findings from the app on Twitter.
Graphs showed an uptick in cases reported in Yorkshire, the North East and the East Midlands in England.
Scotland and Northern Ireland are also showing signs of a jump in cases.
But London and south of England are still seeing a downward trend, Prof Spector said.
The estimate of the R rate on February 13 was 0.9 for England, according to the graphs, compared with 0.8 reported by the app on February 7.
The R also appears to have gone up by 0.1 in both Scotland (to 1) and Wales (to 0.9).
The R is how many people one infected person passes the coronavirus on to, and changes based on how much people are socialising.
It must stay below 1 for the outbreak to shrink.
Professor Tim Spector, a KCL epidemiologist and study lead, called the findings a “hitch”
Daily new cases of symptomatic coronavirus infections reported by app users in England (top) and Wales (bottom). The R rate has increased by an estimated 0.1 in both countries since a week prior
Daily new cases of symptomatic coronavirus infections reported by app users in Scotland. The R rate is shown as 1
London and south of England are still seeing a downward trend, Prof Spector said.
Prof Spector said his team was investigating whether the increase in people reporting symptoms was done to vaccinations.
Side effects of the coronavirus jab include a fever, fatigue and headaches – typical of vaccines already in use.
These side effects are similar to the symptoms of coronavirus infection, which may be causing a mix-up in the data.
Prof Spector also said it was possible people were letting their guard down after receiving the vaccine, before they are protected against the disease.
They may be picking up the coronavirus by mixing with friends and family.
It comes after a study from the University of East Anglia found people’s risk of infection doubled in the first eight days after vaccination – possibly because people become less cautious.
It takes at least two weeks for the immune system to have built a response following a vaccine dose, during which time people have “no protection whatsoever”, Prof Spector warned.
The ZOE app data is the first to suggest the pace at which Covid cases are falling has stalled.
It is usually published on a Friday, alongside the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey, which last week said infections had fallen for the fifth week running.
Meanwhile, the seven day average of testing results announced by the Government is at 12,500 compared to 61,260 at the start of January.
But today’s 12,718 reported cases are only 2.3 per cent lower than the 13,013 reported last Wednesday.
It comes as the Government creeps closer to lifting parts of the third national lockdown in England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today he will take a “cautious and prudent approach” to rolling back restrictions.
And the hospitality industry will likely be the last to open up.
The PM will be looking at data on how well vaccines have worked to decide the “roadmap” out of lockdown, due to be revealed next Monday.
But one scientist advising the Government said that the data is looking so good it calls for an “earlier unlocking”.
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, told the Science and Technology Committee today: “All those numbers are looking really good.
“My conclusion from that is if you’re driven by the data and not by dates, right now, you should be looking at earlier unlocking.”