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expert reaction to today’s COVID-19 case numbers

According to the DHSC COVID-19 Dashboard, 2,427 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK today.


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

“Today 2,427 new cases of COVID have been reported in the UK.  That is a 27% increase on the number of cases report last Tuesday and means that in the last seven days there have been 15,895 cases reported which is a 12% increase on the previous seven day period.  This represents the largest week on week increase since early January.  Fortunately at yet there is no sign that hospitalisations have started to increase in the UK.

“The daily case reports are prone to variation with changing numbers of tests undertaken but test numbers have remained fairly constant in recent days.  Confirmation that this rate of increase correctly represents the changing incidence of COVID in the UK will come with the reports of the ONS infection survey, but given the design of that study any change is unlikely to be obvious until the report on the 21st May.

“Looking at public data from the COG-UK website, which suggests an increasing proportion of the cases they sequence are the Indian variant B.1.617.2, this may suggest the increase in infections may be due to the spread of this variant.  As discussed at the Downing Street Press briefing on Monday this variant has been increasing rapidly in recent weeks.  But, from the still relatively small proportion of positive samples from the week ending 8th May that are available on the COG-UK website it would appear that about 25% of all positive samples they sequenced were this variant, up from about 13% the previous week.  Though these figures are provisional as more positive samples will be typed and added to the database in coming days.

“There has been a lot of debate about when and if a further wave of infection will happen in the UK.  The reports of today suggest that this wave may have already begun.  That hospitalisations have yet to increase would be consistent with the view that vaccine is still effective at reducing the risk of severe disease and gives hope that this new wave, if it indeed continues, will be less damaging to the NHS.”



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