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expert comments on the football and celebrations and COVID-19 cases

A few journalists have asked us for comments on the football and COVID-19 infections so here’s some from Professor Paul Hunter and Dr Julian Tang in case useful.


Dr Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor/Clinical Virologist, University of Leicester, said:

“It’s great that the England football team are winning their games – I’ve seen all their disappointments over the past 40 years. And it’s great that the fans can view the games in ever greater numbers.

“But this is also great for the virus to spread – amongst the younger fans who have not yet been vaccinated, or have just had one dose, or the older fans whose vaccine immunity is now waning.

“With the delta variant we have some useful data – showing that the vaccine protection is not 100% – but is higher against hospitalisation and lower against PCR-confirmed Infections – many of whom don’t need hospitalisation: protection of  60% for AZ and 79% for Pfizer against PCR-confirmed infection:

and 92% for AZ and 96% for Pfizer against hospitalisation:

– and the level of vaccine protection, individually,  is always in flux as antibody levels drop in some who have not responded at all, or in those who were vaccinated longer ago vs. those who have only recently been vaccinated as those antibody levels rise.

“So the virus is likely to spread as fans celebrate (or commiserate) together – and most will only experience mild illness – but a few will not. 

“Long COVID will affect some fans – to different degrees of severity – this study found that over 50% of 247 home-isolated 16-30 year olds had some symptoms of long COVID 6 months later:

“Maybe this will become just part of living with the virus – but people should be aware of these potential risks.”


Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, University of East Anglia, said:

“It is very clear that in all three home countries the week on week rate of increase in case numbers was slowing and it did look like we may be seeing case numbers plateauing. But in all three countries England, Scotland and Wales there was an obvious surge in case numbers starting about 10 days after that countries first match in the Euros. In England we saw a jump from about 32% for week ending 20th June (7 days after first match) compared to the previous 7 day period to 74% for week ending 2nd July. For Scotland there was a 21% increase on week ending  20th June and 132% for week ending 28th June. For Wales 41% we 19th June to 114% for we 27th June. For any event to impact on case numbers one would not expect to see any major change in cases reported for at least a week.

“The most recent increase for 7th July for England is 49%, Scotland 9% and Wales 58%. All three counties seem to be seeing a decline in the rate of increase but it was most noticeable for both Wales and Scotland starting about a week or so after their team’s last matches. Wales numbers are rather more noisy because of small numbers and the facts that Wales does not report cases every day so difficult to draw strong conclusions from this principality’s case reporting.

“Whilst association does not necessarily mean causation it is difficult to escape the conclusion that celebrations around the Euros have been an important factor in driving up the epidemic in the UK. On the bright side this may mean less pressure after the Euros are over (many more younger males will have some degree of immunity from natural infection) and if England follows Scotland we may even see case numbers starting to decline especially as schools will be closing for the summer break soon, though this may be hoping a little too much.

“Case numbers may be declining in Scotland because the Euros are over and schools have been out for about a week so maybe we can expect an even more rapid decline and if so this may bode well for England after the 19th July. We will know one way or another in about three weeks’ time.”



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



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