The UK is not entering a second wave of coronavirus infections, and an increasing number of cases are the result of increased, more accurate testing to find infections in younger people, experts say.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned yesterday that the UK "must do everything in our power" to stop a second wave of people hospitalized with the coronavirus, which he believes has started in Europe.
However, Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist and oncologist at the University of Warwick, said Mr Hancock's comments were "alarming" as there is no indication that the UK is heading for a second wave.
He agreed that while cases are on an upward trend and people need to be "vigilant" it is becoming increasingly clear that people are less likely to die if they receive Covid-19 now compared to earlier in the pandemic, at least in Europe & # 39 ;.
Another 1,295 people were diagnosed with the virus in the UK yesterday, down from 1,406 the previous day, and the average number of daily cases over seven days is now 1,339 – a 27 percent increase last Tuesday and the highest since June 11.
Scientists say younger people are the ones who cause infections and are less likely to get seriously ill and end up in the hospital. Because of this, hospital cases and deaths won't necessarily follow higher cases, and there won't be a fatal wave like the first.
There are currently only 764 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in the UK, of whom only 60 are in intensive care. This is a sharp decrease from a high of 19,872 hospital patients on April 12th.
Professor Carl Heneghan, Medical Specialist at Oxford University, said: “There is currently no second wave. What we are seeing is a sharp increase in the number of healthy people who carry the virus but show no symptoms. Almost all of them are young. They are discovered because – finally – there is a comprehensive system of national tests and tracings in place. & # 39;
But Mr Hancock said in the House of Commons yesterday that he feared this surge in infections in healthy people would creep into vulnerable groups if allowed to continue, saying this is a pattern in the US where cases are spiraling out of control .
Scientists have given an alternate view of Mr Hancock's demise, pointing out that deaths in France or Spain have not increased and the reason why hospital admissions in the UK have not increased in line with cases diagnosed "simply reflects increased testing".
Statisticians say expanding testing capacity means infections are easier to find compared to when the pandemic started. In the UK alone, the number of tests performed has increased by 20 percent from early July to the present day. However, the number of positive results has only increased 0.3 percent over the same period, suggesting that new cases are a combination of more testing and only a small increase in infections at hotspots.
The government is about to launch a new campaign to remind people that the virus continues to pose a threat, Hancock said, suggesting another slogan: "Hands, Face, Space and Test" to encourage the public To Remind yourself keep washing your hands, avoid touching their face, maintain social distance, and get tested for symptoms.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today, although the UK death toll is low, "we must remain vigilant" and "do everything in our power to prevent a second wave" in the UK, much like Spain and France, while the NHS did protects winter. He's coming to a cabinet meeting today
The UK's coronavirus test positivity rate has remained unchanged since June. This shows that the proportion of people who tested positive is not changing drastically – this suggests that the increasing number of cases is strongly related to the increasing number of tests
The chance of catching COVID-19 is "One in 44 Million".
The Office for National Statistics states that around 2,200 people contract the coronavirus every day, based on surveillance smears in random households.
According to economist Tim Harford, who examined the numbers collected by the ONS to assess current risk, the chances of catching Covid-19 in England are at 44 million daily.
He told The Sun: “Covid-19 currently has a background risk of a one in a million chance of death or harm every day.
"The risk of death alone is one in two million."
Mr Harford, who presents the statistics program BBC Radio 4 More or Less, added: “It is not so risky to simply exist in a country where the virus is suppressed but it is circulating.
& # 39; It depends on age, gender, geography, behavior and a lot more.
“But on average, it is similar to a bath, skiing, or a short motorcycle tour, and is much less risky than a dive or a parachute jump.
"The risk for most people in the UK seems modest for now."
Mr Hancock said yesterday: "I said in July that a second wave is rolling across Europe and unfortunately we are now seeing an exponential increase in the number of cases in France and Spain." And there, too, the number of hospital stays is unfortunately increasing.
"We have to do everything in our power to protect ourselves from a second wave here in Britain."
France recently saw the largest daily increase in coronavirus infections since March. 7,379 new cases were diagnosed on August 28, compared to 7,578 on March 31 – amid the height of the pandemic in Europe.
In Spain there is still snowball with 23,500 new infections at the weekend. Between Friday and Monday, hospital admissions rose by more than 700 and deaths by 83.
Graphs show that the number of people hospitalized in both countries has also increased.
In the UK, deaths are currently low, with only two on Monday and three on Wednesday yesterday. The latest state coronavirus death toll in the UK is 41,504. It takes into account victims who died within 28 days of testing positive.
The government fears the UK will stare at a second wave of hospitalizations and deaths as they devastated the nation in April and May. This was not shared by all scientists.
Experts say more and more cases were to be expected as the country reopened and young people returned to work and social settings. It can even be safe to let the virus spread to those with the lowest risk of death – the young and healthy – while protecting the elderly.
Professor Carl Heneghan, who was closely following government statistics during the outbreak, wrote in an editorial for the Daily Mail yesterday that he believes it is safe to return cautiously for much of normal life.
"The government urgently needs to send out a clear, concise message that the risk of Covid-19 is currently low," said Professor Heneghan.
Professor Heneghan called for schools and universities to be reopened, saying the first lockdown was only necessary because the country was overwhelmed by a new virus when no one understood.
He said that it is now a "different virus" how we deal with it and that drastic measures like this shouldn't be needed again.
He added, "The alarmists will say that such asymptomatic people are just as likely to spread the coronavirus – and maybe even more dangerous because they don't know they have it. This fear is simply not confirmed by the experience of the past six months.
On the contrary, when the whole country was closed, it was the younger people who stayed free from the infection. And while everyone stayed at home, it spread like wildfire in our hospitals and especially in nursing homes for the elderly.
“Nursing home cases have now fallen sharply, although we have not yet eliminated the danger. We know that infection rates have increased in young people, but we don't see any subsequent infections in older people.
& # 39; The evidence is getting clearer. Young people do not protect older members of society by staying away from school, university and work. But they do terrible long-term damage in another way by maintaining their social isolation. & # 39;
Professor Heneghan commented on his point in an article in The Spectator, adding that other reasons the decline in hospital cases and deaths could be because doctors are now better able to treat the disease or that the virus has changed, but he spoke also the subject of testing for accuracy, suggesting that some of the results are false positives.
He said, “A very high number of cycles can detect fragments and give a positive result, but a lower number of cycles are more likely to identify infected and infectious people who need to be quarantined.
& # 39; There is growing evidence that a large proportion of the "new" mild cases and people who test positives again after quarantine or discharge from hospital are not infectious, but merely remove harmless virus particles that help their immune system handled efficiently.
"Those whose immunity is more active belong precisely to the age group of the observed 'positives' and are the least likely to end up with a serious illness."
He added that deaths from Covid-19 across Europe could be lower than expected as the virus has been found to be less harmful. Some published studies show minor mutations. However, the evidence to support the theory that the virus has become less lethal is patchy.
Professor Kevin McConway, Professor Emeritus of Applied Statistics at the Open University, said it was important to keep an eye on the cases in the UK, but there was no evidence that the UK was headed for a deadly second wave and that it was part of New infections in Europe were the result of further tests.
He told MailOnline, “To say that something – a second wave here – could happen is far from saying that it will happen. So far I don't see any signs of it happening. "
& # 39; As for the position in France and Spain (and some other countries), the rates of new cases have certainly increased. However, it is difficult to compare the number of confirmed cases to the March and April events because you will only get a confirmed case if the person has been tested.
“In the early stages of the pandemic, far fewer tests were available in most countries than they are today. Part of the reason there are more cases is because people are better at searching and finding them.
"I'm not saying there haven't been any real gains in France and Spain in the last few weeks, but the position is not like it was in March and April." The number of cases (in the UK) is well below the peak of the pandemic here in March and April.
“ One important point, however, is that the number of Covid deaths in France has shown little sign of spike lately. The number of deaths in Spain has increased somewhat but is not very pronounced at all. & # 39;
Lawrence Young, a virologist and oncologist at the University of Warwick, agreed that while cases are on an upward trend, "it is becoming increasingly clear that people are less likely to die if they receive Covid-19 now compared to when they were earlier." The least pandemic in Europe ”.
He told MailOnline: “Possible explanations are that a greater number of younger people (15-44 years old) are infected compared to the first peak in April and this group is less likely to have 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;
Professor Young added, “It was not unexpected that loosening lockdowns and returning to more regular activities would lead to more infections.
"I think the question is," When did local spikes in coronavirus infections become a second wave? "
Experts have admitted that outbreaks in England don't necessarily mean the UK is headed for a second wave, and the surge in case numbers doesn't reflect a nationwide surge in infections.
Professor Rowland Kao, Sir Timothy O’Shea Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science at the University of Edinburgh, admitted that there is "a general trend towards higher numbers of cases" in diagnosed cases alone.
"Whether or not this marks the start of a second wave of a national epidemic depends on the ability of the testing and tracking system to respond effectively by clearing up as many local outbreaks as possible quickly," he added.
He suggested that it was not surprising that cases had emerged over the past week, saying, "The release of restrictions, the increased number of imports due to overseas travel, and evidence that in some cases the remaining restrictions are only Inadequately adhered to, all have the potential to increase transmission. This trend also reflects patterns seen in other European countries where restrictions were previously imposed and therefore the case was recurring earlier. & # 39;
Dr. Simon Clarke, Associate Professor of Cell Microbiology at the University of Reading, said the number was moving "wrong" after the plateau but added, "It is worth remembering that we have not yet seen a corresponding surge in hospital admissions, and alone deaths it is likely that the daily number of new diagnoses and hospital admissions will have to increase steadily before the authorities attempt to significantly tighten our life constraints. & # 39;
Although diagnosed cases – which are published daily by the Department of Health and Welfare – are increasing, test data suggests this is not a problem.
Testing capacity has grown rapidly over the course of the pandemic to reach more people. However, upon closer inspection of the data, fewer people actually get a positive result.
A significantly higher number of people have been tested since July – when the diagnosed cases were the lowest, NHS test and trace data shows.
Between August 13 and August 19, 442,392 people were tested – an increase of nearly 20 percent from the 355,597 tested between July 9 and 15.
However, the positive earnings ratio rose only slightly from 1.12 percent to 1.4 percent in the same period. This shows that no more people test positive in August than in July.
A significantly higher number of people are tested in August than in July – when the diagnosed cases were the lowest, the NHS test and trace data shows (Figure). However, the positive earnings ratio rose only slightly from 1.12 percent to 1.4 percent in the same period
Dr. Duncan Young, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at Oxford University, commented on these numbers to MailOnline: & # 39;It is therefore very likely that the increase in cases is mainly related to increased tests, but has a small additional effect due to the increased prevalence. "
Other data from Public Health England shows a similar trend over the course of the pandemic.
Tests have increased significantly from no more than 13,000 tests a day in early April to around 150,000 in July.
In the same period, the positive test results in Pillar 2 – outside of hospitals and nursing homes – dropped drastically from a high of 5.2 percent in May to 1.4 percent in mid-July, which shows that fewer people tested positive for the coronavirus despite tests reaching thousands more people.
That number rose slightly from 1.6 percent to 2.1 percent for the week ending August 23 that month. However, this is a small increase compared to the 5 percent in May. The tests have hit up to 200,000 a day this month.
Dr. Young said, “There are at least three ways that the“ test positive ”case rate will increase compared to hospitalization. Overall, more people are tested, but the proportion of the population (prevalence) is constant, so more cases are simply discovered. The proportion of people tested who are positive increases (ie there are really more cases); The traceability system has resulted in more patients being tested at higher risk (due to exposure), which means that the patients tested tested more positive, but may not have tested the population.
"It could also be a mixture of all three."
Other government data shows that cases are stable across the country. The Office for National Statistics reported last week that there is some evidence of a small increase in the percentage of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in July after a low in June. but that further balances out & # 39 ;.
An estimated 2,200 people contract the coronavirus every day – in stark contrast to the 100,000 per day in March.
Professor McConway said, "I'm sure everyone would be happier if we could be reasonably certain that the rate of infection is going down. It may be falling, but at least these estimates suggest that it is not rising rapidly nationally, even if it is slowly If it goes up, it doesn't mean it will keep going up. We just can't be sure. "
Updated estimates of the R-number – how many people an infected person passes the coronavirus to – show that the R-number has increased in all regions of England and is now between 0.9 and 1.1.
The growth rate – which reflects how quickly the number of infections changes from day to day – has also increased slightly. It is estimated that the number of new infections is between 2 percent and daily growth of 1 percent.
However, looking at both sets of data, Professor McConway said, "My interpretation is that both indicate that the rate of new infections is roughly stable at the national level."
He added, “There are outbreaks in some places and when outbreaks do occur, action is taken and infection rates in those places generally decline. It is more important to keep local outbreaks at bay than to worry unduly about whether the national R number is just above or just below 1.
"The numbers published daily for confirmed new cases (by the Ministry of Health) are more up-to-date, but they vary widely from day to day in the number and types of people tested."
Professor McConway said that while cases have increased, I "have not been unduly affected".
The deaths announced daily by the Department of Health have fallen since the height of the UK's Covid-19 crisis. More than 1,000 patients were killed on a few days in April.
Health officials in Northern Ireland said yesterday that there had been no new deaths from Covid-19 for the fifth straight day. The toll was 560.
And no new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Scotland in the past 24 hours, the latest figures from the Scottish Government show. This means that Scotland's death toll was 2,494 for six consecutive days.
Wales reported one death in all situations after a four-day streak with zero new deaths, while NHS England reported nine deaths. But not all were included in the Department of Health's release as the two agencies have different time limits.
Mr Hancock said while the UK death toll is low, "we need to remain vigilant," adding it was "important" that everyone played their role in defending against Covid-19, including social distancing, hand washing and contact tracing.
Data shows that hospital stays in France have gradually increased since mid-July as the number of people who tested positive increased
According to official European data, the number of hospital admissions for Covid-19 in Spain has increased
He said the best scenario is for a Covid-19 vaccine to be found before the end of this year after it was announced that Oxford, one of the global front runners, is entering the final stages of testing.
Until then, contact tracing is one of the most important lines of defense against the coronavirus. However, MPs criticized the failure of the NHS test and trace system and rewarded the private sector for renewing contracts.
Mr Hancock claimed the UK was in the "top tier" of test and trace systems around the world, despite official figures showing the decline in positive cases and tracing of their contacts, and defended relationships with private companies.
BORIS JOHNSON WARNET THERE IS "MORE COVID TO COME"
Boris Johnson warned today that "more of this wretched Covid will come" when he called his cabinet and told ministers "bit by bit" that Britain was "getting back on its feet".
The prime minister told his top team that "we know there will be more outbreaks" but he is "absolutely confident" that the government will be able to deal with them.
He also claimed that "a large number" of people are now returning to their offices, and "quite right too," fearing that Professor Chris Whitty will be lost to work from home over government pressure to persuade workers give up, could stop.
Mr Johnson met with his cabinet in the large Locarno suite in the Foreign Office – chosen because it offers more space than number 10 so that the ministers can distance themselves socially.
The opulent backdrop will be used for the meetings for the foreseeable future after Mr Johnson had to talk to ministers about Zoom for months.
The Prime Minister hopes that the meeting, which took place on the morning of Parliament's return from its summer recess, and when thousands of students eventually returned to schools across England, will set an example to workers across the country.
Mr Johnson is encouraging staff to return to their offices, but it was alleged today that ministers are holding back the drive because they fear the chief medical officer may resign.
Prof. Whitty is said to hinder government efforts to get more workers back to work and physically return to work.
The Telegraph ministers, according to cabinet sources, fear that if they push too hard on the issue, Prof Whitty could step down on security concerns, leading to a wave of staff returning to the city.
Such a move would likely severely damage public confidence in the government.
MPs asked the Minister of Health in the lower house yesterday about the failures of the critical NHS test and trace system. Ilford South MP Sam Terry asked if contracts with private companies, which include Serco, Sitel and Capita, with no track record of 'this instance' would continue.
An obviously irritated Mr. Hancock said, "I will defend for all purposes the teams working on our NHS test and trace system, the private sector companies without whom this would be impossible."
He stressed that the latest figures show that 84.3 percent of the close contacts of Covid-19 cases have been reached and should self-isolate, over the 80 percent recommended by scientists for successful contact tracing.
Since the start of Test and Trace, 80.6 percent of the close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 have been reached through the system and asked to self-isolate.
However, the latest data, released on Friday, shows that during the week of August 13-19, only 75.5 percent of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.
Week-by-week data shows the system is deteriorating, with call handlers hitting a record low of just 72.6 percent of infected patients last week.
It is the fifth week in a row that the number of Covid-19 cases recorded has fallen, falling from its best of 82.8 percent in the week ended July 22nd.
Questioned the government track and trace numbers provided by Mr Hancock, Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told the Commons, “I was listening to the numbers (Matt Hancock) but he did not tell the House what numbers were actually going into the system they have fallen in the past week – from 79 percent to 72 percent. This system is not yet the best in the world. & # 39;
Last week, Mr. Hancock admitted the system was “not quite there” and told LBC Radio on Thursday, “One of the challenges is that we want to get NHS Test and Trace on over 80 percent of the contacts so that they can match can isolate yourself. " We're at just over 75 percent, so we're almost there, but not quite there. & # 39;
Mr Hancock said the tests will be expanded with new rapid Covid-19 tests that can provide results on site in 90 minutes and do not need to be performed by a healthcare professional.
He told the Commons about the new "rapid test for coronaviruses and other winter viruses" that will help "break transmission chains quickly".
"These tests do not require trained healthcare professionals to be introduced in non-clinical settings," he said.
The Minister of Health also gave details of the “Pay to Isolate” scheme, which came after criticism that there was insufficient financial support for people who were asked to self-isolate for 14 days, which could potentially result in loss of wages.
He said, “Today we are also introducing our new wage system to isolate. We would like to support low-income people in areas with a high incidence of Covid-19, who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home.
& # 39; The program will give people who test positive for the virus £ 130 for the 10 day period of staying home. Other contacts, including members of their own household who are self-isolating for 14 days, are eligible for a payment of £ 182. "
Also in the House of Commons, Health Secretary Helen Whately said nursing homes caring for elderly residents can now access retests – but there are delays in doing these tests for staff.
Labor shadow health minister Liz Kendall urged every nursing home to test its employees weekly for Covid-19, saying: "Ministers initially promised weekly tests for nursing home workers through July 6th. Then they gave up on that promise and said routine testing wouldn't happen until September 7th.
"With more than 15,000 deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes and the coming winter and flu season, regular weekly testing of nursing homes is vital."
On health issues, Ms. Whately replied, “Our retesting of nursing homes has been delayed due to specific issues with some test kits.
& # 39; We are now able to offer retests to all nursing homes for the elderly, and we have been able to open the (testing) portal to people with adults of working age as residents, and we have started our second round of retests for the older Sector. & # 39;
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that "more of this wretched Covid will come" when he called his cabinet and "bit by bit" told ministers that Britain is "getting back on its feet". Pictured: a session of his cabinet this morning as Parliament returned from its summer recess
YOUNG PARTY WOMAN accused of being in the center of AYRSHIRE OUTBREAK
A young Scottish woman was accused of spreading the coronavirus by continuing to partake after a vacation with friends who were sick with symptoms.
The nameless "super spreader" reportedly went to pubs and "multiple parties" before testing positive.
A group of 22 cases have since emerged in Ayrshire, all of which medical officials have confirmed to be related to house parties.
A full contact tracing operation is underway to stop the virus snowballing in the area.
Disgruntled locals pointed a finger at a young woman believed to have ignored advice on self-isolation after returning from overseas on August 21 with two friends who were suffering from symptoms.
One parent told the Ayrshire Advertiser, “She's been to several parties, one of which was in Kilmarnock.
"She knew her other friends were isolating themselves, it's disgusting."
Another source told the newspaper the woman visited pubs in Ayr before testing positive for Covid-19 after testing on Aug 26.
NHS Ayrshire and the Arran Test and Protect Team are beginning to liaise with those associated with the house parties.
Dr. Crawford McGuffie, Medical Director, said: & # 39; The NHS Ayrshire & Arran health protection team is currently conducting a contact tracing exercise after a number of people test positive for coronavirus infection (COVID-19).
"These positive cases have been linked to a number of house parties."
Two employees at Sainsbury & # 39; s in Prestwick, South Ayrshire are self-isolating after testing positive.
Coronavirus is waning in Scotland and the country has only reported three deaths a month.
Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO's European chief, said he was "not surprised" if hospital admissions surge to the level of the worst days of the pandemic this November.
When speaking on Radio 4's Today program, he warned the UK against it "Three phenomena" in the colder months on top of coronavirus – including children picking up the disease in school, a surge in influenza cases and excessive deaths among the elderly.
It follows the epiphany that government documents say mMost people won't get the flu shot until December, though the government tried to vaccinate everyone to protect the NHS this winter.
Cases have already been shown to increase across the UK. Scotland has had record positive tests since May, with 154 detected in the last 24 hours.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this week that she is "feeling a greater sense of fear" today than at any time "probably in the past few months".
Although the number of coronavirus cases is rising again, there is no evidence that more people are ending up in hospital or dying, as feared.
Experts believe that cases are more common among younger people, who almost never die from the disease, and that hospitals can now treat Covid-19 better than they did when the pandemic began.
However, a member of SAGE said last week that there could be a delayed spike in hospital stays and deaths in the coming weeks as younger adults pass the virus on to older relatives.
Officials have already planned a possible second wave in advance and organized the UK's largest flu vaccination program to date.
The government promised to reach 30 million people, including everyone over 50 and 11.
It was planned to cover more risk groups so that fewer people would get seriously ill with seasonal flu. This will take the pressure off hospitals that are at risk of a recurrence of Covid-19 cases this winter.
However, leaked documents The Telegraph saw reveal that the services aim to "expand the vaccination program to the 50-64 age bracket in November and December".
It is recommended that you get the flu shot in the fall, before the flu starts circulating. As a result, millions are at risk of being caught before they can be vaccinated.
The documents say healthy patients aged 50 to 64 may not get a sting at all, despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock boasting that Britain had "the biggest flu protection program ever this fall".
The vaccinations could be offered after prioritizing other eligible groups and subject to vaccine supply.
Last year 15 million people in England were vaccinated but that was less than half of the eligible people. It suggests that there wouldn't be enough for extra people if everyone in these groups took their free push this year.
Increased flu shots are planned to ease pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-like illnesses that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
PORTUGAL'S COVID-19 CASES CONTINUE TO RISK TO 75,000 BRITONS AT QUARANTINE RISK
Portugal's Covid cases continue to increase – they are about to be quarantined, 75,000 Brits are still in the country – as BA boss Willie Walsh said that Great Britain has set a "closed sign" with 15 nations on the list.
In the seven days to yesterday, there were 22.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the country, down from 22.1 as of Monday.
It came when Mr. Walsh, the CEO of BA owner International Airlines Group, accused the government of causing "further chaos and hardship" for travelers based on "arbitrary" statistics.
He wrote in The Times: “Another government U-turn to put Portugal on the quarantine list will create further chaos and trouble for travelers.
& # 39; The government is using arbitrary statistics to effectively ban 160 countries, destroying the economy in the process. The government must put in place a test regime to restore confidence. "
He added that the "ever-changing list" of countries requiring two weeks of quarantine means the UK has officially hung the "Closed" sign.
Ryanair flights from Portugal have jumped from £ 20 two weeks ago to £ 302 today as up to 75,000 Brits with the vacation hotspot were on the verge of being put back on the UK quarantine list.
A rate of 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven day period is the level ministers are looking at to trigger isolation rules.
A bad flu season with a second wave of coronavirus will cripple the NHS and wreak havoc in figuring out which patients have the flu and which have Covid-19 as the symptoms are similar.
But the world could get one step closer to a coronavirus bite after Oxford University vaccine candidate entered final testing phase in the US.
British drug giant AstraZeneca, which owns the rights to the vaccine, said it did so 30,000 American volunteers participated in the phase 3 clinical trial.
There are now 50,000 people around the world taking part in studies to determine whether the bite – known as AZD1222 – can actually prevent people from becoming infected with Covid-19.
In the UK, Brazil and South Africa, thousands of volunteers have already been injected with the experimental drug and are being monitored by scientists.
The studies had to be relocated abroad in the summer – to South Africa and Brazil, where Covid-19 is still widespread – in order to accelerate the studies.
In the UK, there are no longer enough people infected with the virus to reliably test whether the bite is working.
Oxford professor Sarah Gilbert, the minds behind the bump, said preliminary data from trials in these countries could be expected in the coming weeks.
Cambridge's AstraZeneca said further trials are planned in Japan, where there has been a fatal second wave, and in Russia, where there have been a million cases.
Scientists from AstraZeneca and Oxford have repeatedly promised to deliver the vaccine to the most vulnerable groups from Covid-19 by the end of the year.
AstraZeneca has also signed contracts with manufacturers in China, the US and across Europe to provide the Oxford Jab to the whole world.
Meanwhile, the UK drugmaker signed a deal with Oxford Biomedica yesterday to mass-produce the vaccine if it turns out to be effective.
The company claims it will receive £ 15m as a capacity reservation fee and up to £ 35m to make multiple large batches of the vaccine if it works.
Gene and cell therapy company Oxford Biomedica will be the only manufacturer of the vaccine in the UK for 18 months.
Early studies have shown promising results. Tests have shown that the vaccine is safe to use in humans and elicits an immune response. However, data to show it is protecting people is not expected until later this year.
In order to prove beyond a doubt that it protects people from infection, vaccines have to go through rigorous phase three studies.
In these tests, the vaccine will be given to tens of thousands of people in real-world settings to see if it is preventing them from catching Covid-19 in the community.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock says frontline health and care workers and those at increased risk of serious illness, including residents of nursing homes, will come first to get access to a vaccine.
According to Hancock, who said health bosses are also considering quick access for people with a BAME background who are disproportionately affected by Covid-19, it will be the turn of those over 50 and those with heart and kidney disease.
It's more likely that the average person will get their hands on a Covid-19 sometime in early 2021, according to British Vaccination Czar Kate Bingham.
However, mass production is already under way so that the vaccine can be made as soon as possible.
AstraZeneca claims to be able to produce two billion cans by summer 2021. The US has already ordered 300 million cans and the UK has pre-purchased 100 million.
Millions of students in England are returning to school for the first time in almost six months this week, but are faced with tough new rules to control the spread of the coronavirus
Thousands of school children have returned to the Northern Ireland classroom following the lockdown. Elementary 7 and 6th grade students returned last week, but the entire school population was back on Tuesday. Pictured: 11th grade students at Hazelwood Integrated College, Belfast
Millions of students in England are now returning to school for the first time in nearly six months, but are faced with tough new rules to control the spread of the coronavirus.
However, two recently published studies should reassure parents that their child is safe from the virus after months of heated debates between ministers and teachers unions.
One study found that children under the age of 10 in the UK are almost 20 times more likely to die from accidental injuries than Covid-19.
Newcastle University scientists also found that children under the age of 10 are twice as likely to die from the flu than from the coronavirus.
When looking at the risk of Covid-19 deaths between the ages of 10 and 19, it was three times lower than the risk of dying from an injury.
However, the study found that Covid-19 deaths in this group were four times higher than the flu. This showed that people should not completely ignore the coronavirus and still be careful, the researchers said.
A small number of Covid-19 deaths have been recorded among children in the UK – 12 in the 10-19 age group and three in the under 10 age group.
Most of these children would have had underlying health conditions, research has shown that make them more prone to serious illness.
Another study found that children are six times less likely to spread coronavirus than adults.
The study tracked how the coronavirus spread to a group of 1,900 people, mostly children, who spent five weeks in summer camps in Spain.
They mingled in similar situations to schools, but spent most of their time outdoors rather than in classrooms, the Barcelona researchers said.
Daily swab tests showed that 30 infected children passed the virus on to only 12 others, even though there were more than 250 close contacts in their "bladder".
The children's R-rate – the number of people an infected person transmits the virus to – was 0.3. In comparison, the R-rate in the region was 1.7 to 2, which means the children were six times less infectious than the general population.
Professor Heneghan urged the government to state clearly and concisely that the schools were very safe and criticized them "Alarmist" view that schools could be breeding grounds for the virus in the absence of evidence.
He said, “We need to reassure parents that it is safe for children to return to school this week.
“School-age students are the least likely to show symptoms of Covid-19, and it will be a tragedy when unfounded fears prevent them from resuming their education.
“We need our children to be smarter than we are to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of our current generation – we need them to be in class.
“The alarmists will say that such asymptomatic people are just as likely to spread the coronavirus – and maybe even more dangerous because they don't know they have it. This fear is simply not confirmed by the experience of the past six months. & # 39;
“School-age students are the least likely to show symptoms of Covid-19, and it will be a tragedy when unfounded fears prevent them from resuming their education.
"We need our children to be smarter than we are to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of our current generation – we need them to be in class."
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