An average of 1 in 50 people in England has Covid-19, the government said Tuesday, 5 January, 2021 the country’s first day of its new and third national lockdown in response to the runaway new virus variant driving record infection rates.
The government’s Chief Medical Adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, at a press conference alongside PM Boris Johnson, shared the grim data warning that the new strain of the virus discovered in London and the south of England is now “taking off” across the country.
“We’re now into a situation where across the country as a whole, roughly 1 in 50 people have got the virus, higher in some parts of the country, lower in others,” he said.
“1 in 50 is really quite a large number indeed.”
The figure is equivalent to about 1.1m people.
Covid-19 hospital admissions in England also reached another record high on Tuesday, 5 January, 2021 NHS England figures showed.
The UK reported a further 60,916 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, 5 January, 2021, the country’s highest daily increase of the pandemic, as well as a further 830 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
The latest increase brings that figure to 76,305 deaths.
Prime Minister Johnson addressed the UK’s vaccination programme, saying some 1.3 million people had so far received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Whitty defended the government’s controversially updated inoculation strategy which involves delaying administering second doses of the two-part vaccine by some 12 weeks, rather than the 21 days recommended by the vaccine makers.
If over that period there is more than 50 percent protection then you have actually won. More people will have been protected than would have been otherwise.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its updated vaccine advisory recommended that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine be given 21-28 days apart, with WHO’s guidance at odds with the UK approach.
Back to the lockdown, Whitty said while restrictions would be lifted “stage by stage,” some new directives could be added.
“We might have to bring a few in, in the next winter for example – that is possible because winter will benefit the virus.”