Charts of coronavirus data presented to the public today by chief scientists Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty may not be as scary as thought, according to experts.
The chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer for England warned this morning that the UK was heading for an increase in hospital cases and deaths from Covid-19 if the outbreak does not change course.
They claimed that new cases could skyrocket exponentially to 50,000 a day in a month if nothing is done, that infections are rising across the country and that the resurgence in France and Spain could be what the UK has in store for.
However, critics say officials "just scare people" that infections won't hit 50,000 a day – three times the current levels in France or Spain – because lockdown measures are tightened and death from Covid-19 is less likely to patients now than in April.
Here MailOnline breaks down the numbers behind the official graphics:
Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance (left) and Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty (right) warned this morning that the UK is headed for an increase in hospital cases and deaths from Covid-19 if it doesn't course switch
Warning Britain will go the same route as France and Spain – or worse
Sir Patrick's first warning point was the specter of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in France and Spain.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned in late July that he feared a "second wave across Europe" would hit the UK.
In France and Spain today, Sir Patrick said: “We have seen an increase in cases, which started in younger people at the age of 20 and gradually spread to the elderly.
& # 39; This increase in the number of cases has led to an increase in hospital stays. As hospital admissions have increased … you will find that deaths are increasing very sadly, but not unexpectedly. & # 39;
French hospital cases are up 28 percent in a month, with 5,800 people currently being treated, while Spanish hospitals have admitted 10,800 people as of August 20 – more than the 7,000 in the past three months combined.
At the height of the crisis in spring, Spain was taking in up to 23,000 people each week, with hundreds dying every day.
However, across France and Spain, hospital capacity is much higher than in spring. Madrid's virus patients fill 22 percent of hospital beds, compared to 100 percent in early April, while France has thousands of free intensive care units and nursing care beds and only a fifth as many hospital patients as in April.
HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS: In France and Spain, hospital cases have increased, with the elderly being particularly affected. The numbers, however, are nowhere near the March and April levels
ADMISSION IN THE ICU: While the intensive care units in hotspots such as Madrid and Marseille are reaching a crisis level, both countries have far more capacities overall than in spring
And while the death toll has risen in both countries, there has been no return to the hundreds of daily deaths that became the norm six months ago.
During its peak in late March and early April, Spain consistently recorded between 600 and 1,000 deaths a day, while France had more than 1,000 on multiple occasions.
By comparison, daily deaths in Spain have only risen above 200 once since June and France only exceeded 100 once in the last three months. This is evident from statistics from Our World in Data.
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist and oncologist at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline earlier this month that while cases are on an upward trend, it is becoming increasingly clear that people are less likely to die if they get Covid-19 earlier in the pandemic, at least in Europe ”.
He said, “Possible explanations are that a greater number of younger people – 15 to 44 year olds – are now infected, compared to the first peak in cases in April, and that this group is less likely to develop serious illnesses.
& # 39; Two; There is now more effective treatment for patients with Covid-19 who require far less mechanical ventilation. and three; less aggressive variants of SARS-CoV-2, especially the D614G variant, are more common – these remain very contagious, but cause less serious illnesses. & # 39;
Government officials claim the UK is about six weeks behind the rest of Europe and could face a similar situation of rising deaths given the current surge in cases.
A senior government source told The Times: “The Prime Minister has a very difficult challenge. At the moment we are on the same path as Spain and France.
"Spain recorded 240 deaths on Thursday – they are six weeks ahead of us so it is now being translated from case to death."
But in Sweden and the US, where both cases have risen again after the initial spike, death rates have not kept pace with infections.
In Sweden, the death rate has been falling steadily since April, although most of the cases occurred in the summer. The country's leading epidemiologist said deaths can be kept low without drastic lockdown measures.
In the United States, cases rose to record levels in July and August after the first wave subsided – but death rates in summer hotspots like Texas and Florida were well below those in New York City, where the virus was hit hardest in the spring .
In Sweden, only 11 new deaths were announced last week, up from a high of 752 deaths in seven days in mid-April.
In the second half of June, cases in the Scandinavian nation peaked when more than 1,000 infections occurred in a few days – but the death toll continued to decline.
The Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who has become the face of the no-lockdown strategy, said in a recent interview that voluntary sanitation measures are "as effective" as complete shutdowns.
There are fears that the number of people dying from coronavirus in the UK will increase as a direct result of rising cases. However, the data shows otherwise – the US has avoided a second wave of Covid-19 deaths almost entirely, despite the fact that the number of those infected has increased sharply since June
Despite a renewed spike in coronavirus infections, Sweden has seen a sustained decline in deaths since the beginning of May
"The rapidly declining cases we are currently seeing in Sweden are another indication that you can significantly reduce the number of cases in a country without having a full lockdown," he told Unherd.
Tegnell added that "deaths are not as closely related to the number of cases in a country," saying that the death rate is more closely related to whether the elderly are infected and how well the health system can handle it.
"These things will affect mortality far more than the actual spread of the disease, in my opinion," he said.
Infections in all age groups in England
Sir Patrick warned that coronavirus cases are on the rise in all age groups, with 20-29 year olds most likely to get sick.
Sickness rates had remained unchanged throughout the summer, but pubs, restaurants and sports clubs reopened in July, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out program encouraged millions of people to go out on summer evenings.
People have also returned to offices and now children to schools, greatly increasing social contact on the way to work, in classrooms, as well as in busier shops and streets.
"What you can see is that cases have increased across all ages," said Sir Patrick.
“The smallest increase was seen in children and in the population aged 70 to 79, but there was an increase in each age group.
“Could this increase be due to increased testing? The answer is no. We see an increase in the positivity of the tests performed – hence we see that the proportion of people who tested positive has increased, even if the tests remain unchanged. & # 39;
However, the graph used in the briefing does not match the data released by Public Health England on Friday 18th September.
PHE's data from the weekly surveillance report showed that the infection rate for 20-29 year olds was 51.8 per 100,000 for the week ended September 13, while it appears to have risen above 60 in the official graph.
The infection rate for this age group had decreased for the first time in 10 weeks from 55.9 a week earlier, the PHE report showed, although it still remained the highest.
In the over 80 age group, the infection rate also fell, below which it fell from 20.6 to 19.8. However, this seems to be increasing again in the graph of the chief scientists.
The infection rates depicted in the official graph all appear to be higher than the Public Health England report, which follows the same measure and is cited as the source.
The line for the 30- to 39-year-old age group is clearly 45 on last week's official graph, while according to the PHE report it is 37.5 per 100,000.
Likewise, rates for ages 40-49 and 10-19 appear to be in the high 30s, while publicly published data on the same date put them at 30.7 and 29.8, respectively.
Public Health England said the data was more recent than the PHE report but could not provide a copy.
Changing the age of infected people can have a positive effect on reducing the death rate from the virus.
Most cases have now occurred in young people – 20-29 year olds are the worst at a rate of around 52 cases per 100,000, up from an earlier high of 47.1 in the spring.
Young people are significantly less likely to die, and some experts say the average risk of death for children under 45 has not increased at all because of the pandemic.
In older people, however, the infection rate has decreased by more than 90 percent. For those over 80, there are now about 19.8 cases per 100,000 people.
This is a decrease from a staggering high of 232.2 cases per 100,000 at the height of the crisis, mainly caused by nursing homes.
The shift from most cases in the old to most cases in the young could mean the virus death rate is significantly lower than it was in April.
A disaster scenario of 50,000 cases per day by mid-October is "very unlikely".
The boldest claim of today's briefing was that the UK could have 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day by mid-October if no action is taken.
Sir Patrick made the warning based on the epidemic's current doubling time of eight days, according to Imperial College London's official REACT study earlier this month, which looked at the results of mass tests through September 7th.
And the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which tracks the spread of the disease through random swab tests, says the number of cases in England nearly doubled between September 3 and 10, increasing from 3,200 new infections per day to 6,000 is.
However, it took two weeks for the official number of cases found in positive tests to double – from a daily average of 1,812 on Sunday September 6th to 3,679 yesterday, September 20th.
Sir Patrick said, “If this continues unabated and doubles every seven days, then of course we say it was 5,000 today, 10,000 next week, 20,000 the week after, 40,000 the week after. and you can see that by mid-October, if this continues, you would have about 50,000 cases a day by mid-October. & # 39;
He said the 50,000 cases a day could result in 200 or more deaths a day a month later – in mid-November.
However, 50,000 cases per day, which Sir Patrick identified as a possibility rather than a prediction, would still be likely less than half as many infections as the UK in March and April.
Scientists predict that more than 100,000 people were newly infected every day during the height of the crisis, but not enough tests have been done to prove it.
Professor Karol Sikora, cancer doctor and former director of the World Health Organization, told MailOnline today: "You are so negative. The graph for the worst-case scenario for 50,000 cases per day until the next month just scares people."
Professor David Paton, an industrial economist at the University of Nottingham, also hit the forecast of 50,000 a day.
On Twitter, he pointed out that France and Spain, which the UK has been compared to, have twice as many cases every three weeks, not in every case, which would bring the UK to 7,000 to 8,000 a day by mid-October.
He said the 50,000 a day was three times higher than in Spain or France.
Professor Paton told MailOnline, "It seems like a very strange scenario, it is not based on any particular modeling as far as I can tell."
"If you look at the past few days, cases have been going down rather than up. This does not seem to be a basis for choosing this" every seven days "doubling.
“It (also) seems strange to me to decide to compare it with France and Spain. There are other countries they could have looked at where cases have doubled every three weeks. Nobody knows what will happen to cases in the UK.
"Do you really think we have five to six times more cases than France?"
Dr. Michael Head of the University of Southampton added, “It is important to note that the Chief Medical Office has identified the potential for 50,000 cases per day as a 'worst case scenario'.
& # 39; The modeling has to calculate the best, worst and most likely scenarios so that different plans can be created.
& # 39; Cases at this level are very unlikely to occur as interventions are put in place to limit the spread of the virus, such as: B. regional locks. However, it is a timely reminder that the pandemic is accelerating both globally and here in the UK. & # 39;
And Professor Mark Woolhouse, an infectious disease expert at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Only three countries in the world – India, USA and Brazil – have ever reported more than 50,000 new cases a day (albeit in the early stages of the pandemic) have given significant underreporting) …
& # 39; Many observers may view this as an implausible scenario. Presumably the UK government intends to illustrate the consequences of continued exponential growth. & # 39;
Hospital stays are increasing and could lead to an increase in deaths
Professor Whitty warned that the increasing number of people going to the hospital would lead to an increase in deaths that could rapidly multiply.
He said inpatient cases double about as quickly as infections – every seven to eight days.
"Well, that tells us that if this continued unabated," he said, "those numbers are relatively small, we're talking about 200 at the moment – but if this continued along the path Patrick set, the death toll would be straight out Covid … will keep increasing, possibly on an exponential curve, which means that it doubles and doubles and doubles again.
“And because of this exponential process, you can quickly go from really, really small numbers to really, really big numbers.
"So we literally turned a corner in the bad sense, albeit only a relatively short time ago."
There are reasons to believe that fewer people who are hospitalized now will die from Covid-19.
Reports from the National Audit & Research Center (ICNARC) in the intensive care unit show that survival rates for the sickest Covid-19 patients in England have improved by 10 percent.
The death rate in the intensive care unit for Covid-19 patients fell from 44 to 34 percent between March and July
The analysis suggests that, given the current trend, it would take little more than three weeks for daily approvals to hit 2,000
The latest analysis of the NHS records shows that 34 percent of ICU patients with Covid-19 died in July. That was well over 44 percent in March.
Experts believe the results show that doctors are better at treating the disease and that doctors are less interested in putting patients on ventilators because they fear it could make the disease worse.
Hopefully survival rates will improve even further after a number of cheap steroids, including dexamethasone and hydrocortisone, are shown to treat severe covid.
Hospitals are also far less busy than they were in April and May, meaning doctors and nurses can spend more time with virus patients. Employee sickness rates are also lower.
However, the data shows that hospital stays are increasing dramatically, which is cause for concern.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week he was concerned that hospital admissions were doubling every eight days and "quickening" in some cases.
Government data shows that 183 newly infected Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in England on Wednesday, compared with just 84 eight days ago and just 38 on August 30th. This means an average of 160 patients need NHS care every day – three times the number from 52 on September 1.
During the peak of the first wave in April, more than 3,000 people were being admitted to NHS hospitals every day. The analysis suggests that, given the current trend, it would take little more than three weeks for daily approvals to cross the 2,000 mark.
However, experts insist that a second wave of Covid-19 in the UK wouldn't be nearly as deadly as the first, as scientific breakthroughs allow doctors to better treat the disease.
The vast majority of people are "unprotected" by herd immunity and yet vulnerable
Sir Patrick warned that the "vast majority" of the UK are still vulnerable to Covid-19 because immunity is so low.
Government advisors believe no more than 8 percent of the population has developed neutralizing antibodies to the coronavirus.
Neutralizing antibodies are substances made by the immune system to remember how to fight a particular disease. But Sir Patrick warned that not everyone will develop antibodies.
Eight percent of the UK – home to around 66.65 million people – is around 5.3 million people, but Sir Patrick said the number is closer to 3 million.
This means that between 61 and 63 million people are still susceptible to the disease, which is a much greater threat to the elderly and obese.
And he admitted that the rate could be even higher in London and other cities, saying that up to 17 percent of people living in the capital may already be sick. Sir Patrick said these higher rates could mean the disease is spreading more slowly in a second wave in densely populated areas.
In a sharp warning, Sir Patrick said, "It means that the vast majority of us are in no way protected and susceptible to this disease."
He cautioned caution about the numbers, however, and insisted that antibodies are not “absolute protection” as levels of disease-fighting substances decrease over time.
For example, research by King & # 39; s College London in July found that immunity to Covid-19 could be lost within months, leading to fears that people like the common cold and flu could be infected annually.
Sir Patrick also said that there may be "other forms of protection," meaning that the 8 percent figure is an underestimate.
Other studies have offered hope for lasting immunity, with survivors of SARS – a closely related coronavirus – still showing vital T cells 17 years after their first infection.
The critical white blood cells that the “Did you have?” Antibody tests fail to detect them are also made in response to the infection.
Other scientific studies have shown that people who have had a cold in the past two years have T cells that show "cross-reactive protection" against Covid-19.
This means that the true proportion of the population that is protected from the disease is a mystery.
Scientific consensus says that herd immunity – when a disease can no longer spread because enough of the population has been exposed to the disease – kicks in when around 60 to 70 percent have the virus, scientifically called SARS-CoV-2.
However, some research has found that this rate could actually be as low as 10 percent if it spreads more widely among the most socially active people. This is because they are in more regular contact with others and are therefore more likely to spread the disease.
If a vaccine were developed, it would have to be 60 to 70 percent covered – but that threshold could be significantly lower for natural immunity.
Coronavirus "is no weaker or less deadly than in March"
Professor Whitty insisted today that the virus is no milder than it was during the first wave, despite claims it has been weakened.
Doctors in Italy and the US have claimed that SARS-CoV-2 appears to be less effective over time because the viral load has decreased over time.
Viruses are known to change over time because they are subject to random genetic mutations in the same way as all living things.
Some of the mutations can prove to be beneficial to the virus and can be passed on to future generations. For example, when a virus becomes less dangerous to its host – that is, it causes fewer symptoms or less death – it may find that it can live longer and reproduce more.
Professor Whitty dismissed the claims in a clear message to the nation today, saying, "I'm afraid it would be great if it were true, but we see no evidence that it is."
He also uncovered cases where young adults, the least likely to end up in hospital, had an initial surge.
Scientists at Imperial College London have previously claimed that less than 1 percent of those under 30 are hospitalized with Covid-19, and those admitted for treatment often have underlying medical conditions that make them more prone to the disease.
But the rate is dramatically higher among those over 80, and could be around a fifth.
Professor Whitty added, “For many people this remains a mild infection. Mortality increases at very significant rates with age.
"What we have seen in other countries and can clearly see here is that they are not staying in younger age groups."
He accepted that death rates would be "similar to before," with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that it kills around 0.6 percent of all patients overall. For those over 75, however, the rate is 18 percent, but for those under 45, it is below seasonal flu, from which around 0.1 percent of patients die.
The current mortality rate, which indicates how many patients die from confirmed cases – not just from everyone who becomes infected – is around 10.5 percent. However, this will eventually decrease with further testing.
Professor Whitty warned that Covid-19 was more virulent than flu, and said influenza kills about 7,000 patients in a normal winter. As a reference, more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths were recorded on nine different days during the first wave.
However, he admitted the treatment has gotten better and said there was no doubt about it. Professor Whitty said, "Doctors and nurses have learned to treat this more effectively."
He added, "And we have new drugs like dexamethasone that lower the death rate but definitely don't eliminate it or bring it to trivial levels."
Dexamethasone was the first drug proven to lower the risk of dying from Covid-19. In the world's largest drug study in June, researchers at Oxford University concluded that the 5-pound steroid could save up to 35 percent of ventilator-dependent patients – the most dangerous diseases.
And the cheap steroid hydrocortisone can cut deaths from Covid-19 in the sickest patients by almost a third, research found earlier this month.
Other promising drugs like Donald Trump-backed hydroxychloroquine have had disappointing results.
Covid-19 cases "increase significantly in the vast majority of areas"
Presenting a heat map of the UK, Professor Whitty warned that coronavirus cases are now increasing across the UK rather than just a few areas.
"It's not someone else's problem, it's all our problem," warned the chief doctor.
He explained, “What we have seen is a development where … there were very small breakouts first, possibly related to a workplace or other environment, then we saw more localized breakouts that occurred over time Cities have become bigger.
“And now we are seeing a rate of increase in the vast majority of the country. It's moving at different speeds, but it's increasing now. & # 39;
Public Health England data on Friday shows that infections actually decreased or stagnated in 43 of 149 areas – 29 percent.
In 66 areas the infection rate is below 20 cases per 100,000, which means that only 0.02 percent of the population there – only one in 5,000 people – have the disease.
Another six areas have between 20 and 21 per 100,000. 20 per 100,000 is the threshold above which the UK government will consider quarantine for international travelers.
Nur 40 der 149 Gebiete weisen eine über dem englischen Durchschnitt liegende Infektionsrate von 33,8 pro 100.000 auf, was bedeutet, dass drei Viertel der Orte eine unterdurchschnittliche Infektionsrate aufweisen.
Kritiker haben gewarnt, dass nationale Beschränkungen, die für das ganze Land gelten, das Land zu Unrecht mit einem „breiten Pinsel“ tarieren.
Menschen in Gebieten mit niedrigem oder ohne Covid sind von nationalen Beschränkungen betroffen, obwohl sie keinem signifikanten Risiko für das Virus ausgesetzt sind, einfach weil einige Gebiete die Infektionsraten nicht kontrollieren konnten.
Ein konservativer ehemaliger Minister kritisierte die Maßnahmen als "sehr breite Bürste" und sagte, dass etwas "Konzentrierteres" besser gewesen wäre.
David Jones MP sagte gegenüber MailOnline Anfang dieses Monats: „Ich kann verstehen, dass die Regierung etwas tun muss, weil es sicherlich einen Aufwärtstrend gibt.
„Aber es ist kein Aufschwung im ganzen Land. Es gibt einige Teile des Landes wie Devon, Dorset, in denen es überhaupt nur sehr wenig Virenaktivität gibt.
"Es scheint also ein sehr breiter Pinsel zu sein … Ich hätte gedacht, etwas Konzentrierteres wäre besser."
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Sir Patrick Vallance (t) Frankreich (t) Coronavirus (t) Professor Chris Whitty