Patrick Vallance warns nation must be ready for COVID Plan B
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The striking new chart suggests as many as 40 percent of new infections were not being caught by Government figures, which show the outbreak to now be in decline.
The daily new case rate for yesterday (October 27) was 43,941 according to Government figures, down from a 56,000 case spike on October 18.
But, according to ZOE Covid research figures, there are currently an estimated 92,953 new daily symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the UK – a rise of 14 percent on the previous week.
ZOE estimates the UK’s Covid R-rate is around 1.1 – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially, with around one in 56 people catching the virus.
However, ZOE cautioned that their analysis did not cover reported figures for the last five days, when Government statistics show a decline in daily cases.
The new figures come as the Government is facing calls to enact its Plan B measures – which involve the reintroduction of some restrictions to control the spread of the virus.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, told the BBC Today Programme that “we need to be ready to move fast” if pressure on the NHS was to become unbearable.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist and co-founder of the ZOE Covid study, warned the UK “could hit 100,000 new cases sooner than expected and with no sign of a Plan B or Plan C.”
He said the Government’s figures were “a big underestimate” and said that there is “no room for complacency.”
Prof Spector called on individuals to “take matters into our own hands” while the Government is “delaying any decision” by getting vaccinated and wearing facemasks.
He also urged those feeling ill – even if it seemed to be a “harmless cold” – to take a lateral flow test.
The ZOE figures were “consistently higher than the official confirmed daily cases because we get results from various sources, including self-reported lateral flow tests that are under-reported officially,” Prof Spector said.
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“The Government raw figures report on PCR testing of the classical symptoms only, which miss around 40 percent of cases. ZOE extrapolates the data from our sample to predict daily infections in the wider population.”
Ministers have insisted they will only move to Plan B if the NHS comes under “unsustainable” pressure.
Plan B would involve a return to working from home for those who are able to, compulsory masks in certain spaces, and vaccination passports for nightclubs and major events.
A Plan C has yet to be confirmed by the Government.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s SAGE advisory group, said the fall in cases recorded by the Government may be cause by increased immunity among children, as 12-to-15 year olds are vaccinated and schoolchildren began mixing again at the start of a new academic year.
He said yesterday (Wednesday) the spike in infections the UK had seen in the past month had been driven by a “huge numbers of cases” in children, and that we may already be past the peak.
However, ZOE estimates that, among the double vaccinated population, cases continued to rise as immunity wanes, with symptomatic cases up 16 percent from last week.
Prof Spector urged those eligible to receive their booster jab to increase immunity.
Despite the high infection rate, there is a relatively low hospitalisation rate – which has been attributed to the Covid-19 vaccine.
On October 23, 893 patients were admitted to hospital, down from the over 4,000 being admitted daily during the worst of the January peak.
On October 26, 33 deaths were recorded.
While the vaccine has limited ability to stop infection and reinfection, experts say it helps prevent serious illness and death.
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