Lucy Saddler

Coronavirus Update - 5th March 2021

The good news continues...

This week, coronavirus infection rates continued to plummet, with the Imperial College’s REACT study showing that the national prevalence of the virus fell by two-thirds in February from 1.57 percent to 0.49 percent compared to the last REACT study published on January 22nd.

That means, that as of Thursday, only 49 per 100,000 people in the UK were infected with the virus.

In the past seven days the UK has recorded a total of 1,864 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, which is 951 fewer deaths than the previous week.

On Wednesday, a total of 20,703,615 have received the first dose on their vaccine, with 224,996 jabbed on Wednesday. The good vaccine news kept coming this week, with new data showing that the real-world effectiveness of the vaccine reduced hospital admissions by 85% and 94% for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs respectively.

Image: Daniel Schludi from Unsplash

Among the over 80s, there was an overall 81% reduction in the numbers admitted to hospital. The data prompted Public Health England’s head of immunisation, Doctor Mary Ramsay, to remark that the vaccines might “almost completely” stop transmission of the virus.

Following the release of the data, the Scottish First Minister announced on Tuesday that her government would now look at ways to speed up the planned easing of lockdown and committed to ensuring that all school children would return to in-person teaching on either a part or full-time basis after the Easter holidays.

Countries, such as France and Germany, that initially restricted the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in over 65s are now beginning to back pedal and authorise the use of the vaccine in older age groups.

Search for the new strain...

More worryingly this week, the government announced that somebody in England had tested positive for the Brazilian strain of the virus - thought to be more infectious and more resistant to vaccines - but because they filled out a form incorrectly, Public Health England were unable to trace them.

The search for the unknown person was narrowed down to just over 350 households later this week and the government have reassured the public that increased contact tracing will help them to identify the individual quickly.

In Scotland this week, three people were also found to have tested positive for the Brazilian strain, having flown into the country from Brazil via London and Paris.

Jason Leith, the national clinical director for Scotland, said they were oil workers returning with their families and that other passengers who had been on the same flight from London to Aberdeen had now been contacted.

Jeane Freeman, the Scottish Health Secretary, said there was “currently no reason to believe” the variant was circulating in the wider community.