Experts say UK COVID-19 infections have nearly halved since peaking in early April but are still very high


The number of daily new asymptomatic Covid infections in the UK has almost halved in three weeks, from an all-time high in late March, according to the latest figures.

But experts cautioned that the public must remain vigil because cases are still much higher than in previous waves and are expected to rise again in the fall.

New cases fell to 187,400 on Friday, 46 percent down from the March 31 peak of 349,011 cases, helped by warmer weather, the Easter school holiday and higher levels of immunity in the population from high levels of infection, according to the ZOE Covid study app.

Meanwhile, the total number of people with symptomatic infection in the UK was 3.5 million, well below the April 4 peak of 4.6 million, but much higher than the 2.4 million on April 1 and 2.2 million on March 7. Show the app.

The latest figures from the ZOE come after the Office for National Statistics said on Friday that infections fell simultaneously in all four countries in the UK in the previous week for the first time since mid-January.

Wales saw a drop in infections for the first time in seven weeks, while the spread of the virus in Northern Ireland fell to levels last seen before Christmas 2021, the Office for National Statistics said.

England and Scotland also saw a decrease, indicating that the recent increase in infections caused by the Omicron BA.2 variant has peaked.

Experts welcomed the sharp drop in the number of cases, but urged people to be vigilant as infection rates continue to rise.

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Tim Spector, the King’s College London professor who runs the ZOE app, says the number of symptomatic infections will not fall below 100,000 per day over the next three to four months.

After that, their number could drop briefly to about 50,000 cases per day before rising to current levels at the end of September as children return to school, the weather becomes cooler and a new ‘potential’ dominant variable emerges.

“New cases are declining, but we are still at much higher levels than they were in January, and they are declining much more slowly than they were,” Professor Spector said. me.

It is expected to remain very high in the coming months. Certainly there will be over 100,000 people a day for the foreseeable future: the next three or four months. We are stuck in this situation where we will see people get infected on a regular basis.”

He said cases will remain high, in large part, due to the lifting of restrictions, while many people now see COVID-19 as an “inevitable” part of life, and therefore take much fewer precautions than before.

With up to 800,000 users in the UK updating their information at least three times a week, this is the most reliable source of up-to-date data on new infections.

Professor Carl Friston, a virus designer at University College London, says his predictions are very similar to those of the ZOE app.

“Our dynamic causal model suggests roughly the same thing. In other words, reported case rates may drop to around 50,000 cases per day and then rise to more than 100,000 cases per day next fall.”

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Instead, official government figures are becoming increasingly unreliable because they depend on people being tested and their results reported, which is happening less frequently as isolation rules have been relaxed and now tests are being charged.

Thus, the latest official government figure, on Saturday, estimated the number of cases, both with and without symptoms, at 21,174.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, said: “We need to remain vigilant about the potential generation and spread of new variants that, such as the omicron BA.2 subvariable, can lead to reinfection. It would be wrong to assume that any new variant would be Less contagious and less dangerous, especially as vaccine-induced immunity wanes and may not be protective against these new variants.”

Simon Williams, from Swansea University, added: “My concern is that the pattern of infection spikes caused by the ‘living with Covid’ strategy could continue to repeat itself as new variants emerge and more people suffer from reduced immunity. It is necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable groups have a high consumption of the fourth dose.”


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