Coronavirus warning: UK told it will be five weeks before deaths go down regardless of jab

Coronavirus: Expert warns of five week wait for death rate to fall

The warning comes from Professor Graham Medley who told BBC Radio 4’s Today the UK will have to wait five weeks before it can see the coronavirus death rate fall. The professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine claimed the new lockdown measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson will certainly reduce transmission levels of the virus but that it will be five weeks before scientists can start seeing any progress in the community. 

He said: “These measures just announced are going to have more impact, but it’s still a big unknown the extent to which it reduces transmission.

“It certainly will reduce transmission but a key figure, of course, is the reproduction number and whether this reduces it to below one and by how much, because the lower we can get it, the fasted the amount of infection will come down.”

He added: “Of course, it’s Government’s decision what they decide to do and at what point, but it really depends upon what happens in the next five weeks in terms of the infection rate.

“It’s much like in March and in April, we know more now but nonetheless we are still looking at the epidemic increasing.

“And looking for that peak and hoping it happens soon.”

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Almost all COVID-19 deaths (99 percent) can be reduced by vaccinating people in the nine categories listed by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), according to the Covid vaccine deployment minister.

Nadhim Zahawi told Times Radio that “the average age of a person dying from Covid is about 83 in hospital”, but “there are still people between the ages of 50 and 65 who are needing hospitalisation for two or three days for additional oxygen support before they can overcome this terrible virus”.

He added: “99 percent of mortality is reduced by protecting those nine categories, the most vulnerable.”

When asked how long it would take to give jabs to those groups, Mr Zahawi said: “I’m very hopeful that by the spring we will get through the nine categories.”

MPs will return to Westminster to vote on regulations enforcing England’s national lockdown as the stringent restrictions entered into force overnight amid spiralling coronavirus cases.

The Commons has been recalled from its Christmas recess for the second time, to debate and retrospectively vote on the measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

Coronavirus: UK records over 60,000 cases

Boris Johnson will update MPs on the new controls – which include the closure of schools to most pupils and a return to the stay at home order – before a vote due in the evening.

The measures are expected to pass with ease, with Labour set to support the motion.

It comes as the World Health Organisation said it would not recommend withholding the second dose of the vaccine for up to 12 weeks as the UK is, instead suggesting the interval should be between three and four weeks.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will outline a package of support for young people, after students in England were told this year’s GCSE and A-level exams would be scrapped.

The regulations enforcing a national lockdown in England came into effect at 00.01 on Wednesday, as new figures suggested one in 50 people had coronavirus last week.

Data from the Office for National Statistics suggested 1.1 million people in private households in England had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2.

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England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said people must take the ‘stay at home’ rules seriously as he warned that the country faced a “really serious emergency”.

His comments came as the number of daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time, while a further 830 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.

But in a sign of progress, the Prime Minister said that more than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated against the virus across the UK so far, including 23% of all the over 80s in England.

Prof Whitty, speaking alongside Mr Johnson at a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday evening, said the vaccine timetable was “realistic but not easy”, and that the NHS would have to use “multiple channels” to get it out.

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