COVID cases are stable but are not plummeting as Government data says, an expert has claimed.
Professor Tim Spector heads the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app which has shown a plateauing in symptomatic cases at around 60,000 a day.
The study tracks the outbreak by using symptoms reported by app users.
It shows in the past week, cases have flatlined.
Meanwhile the Government’s figures, which rely on testing, show a drastic decline in cases in the past week.
Hopes had been raised that the third wave was starting to end, after seven days of falling case numbers.
But Prof Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London, said: “It's dropped something like 30 per cent in two days, which is pretty much unheard of in pandemics.
“And remember this is happening without restrictions, lockdowns, or some sudden event.
“To me it looks a bit fishy. It looks as if there is some other explanation than other the virus has given up.”
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Prof Spector suggested that people were not getting a Covid test because they were being told by the NHS their symptoms did not constitute the disease.
The NHS says you need a high temperature, new persistent cough or loss of taste and smell in order to get a free PCR test.
Prof Spector said: “Most symptoms people are presenting with are atypical, they are not the fever, loss smell, cough.
“Therefore people aren't getting a test, and we know many of you told to self isolate are being asked about symptoms, and when you report getting flu like symptoms you're told it's not Covid, you're not allowed to get a test.”
Prof Spector said the ZOE data showed a headache was still the most commonly reported Covid symptom.
Unique symtoms in vaccinated people have also become clear, with sneezing, a headache, runny nose and sore throat most frequent.
“But basically if you’re getting cold or flu-like symptoms, you have to suspect Covid,” he said.
“It is disappointing the UK government still hasn't recognised this or updated any advice despite many other countries having done so.”
Prof Spector, who said he was “suspicious” of the reasons benign the dip in daily Government figures, also suggested people were not getting tests in case it meant missing their holiday, a concert or similar event.
He added: “Schools are also broken up. So that cycle where someone in a bubble would get infected, the teachers and parents, families, would then get tests – that was producing a lot of results.
“Many people getting tested might have been mild or asymptomatic and that's now stopped as people are on holiday, and that would've taken out some of those younger cases that might've been driving this.”
Experts have cautioned that the week-long fall in cases may not be a trend that continues.
The effects of July 19 – when all restrictions were lifted in England – have not yet shown in the data and won’t for at least another week.
Yesterday 27,734 new cases were diagnosed, the first time an increase had been reported in days.
According to ZOE COVID Study incidence figures, it is estimated that among unvaccinated people in the UK there are currently 36,102 new daily symptomatic cases of Covid on average.
There are currently 10,268 new daily cases in people with one vaccine dose, and 14,110 new daily cases in fully vaccinated people.
ZOE said the larger number of cases in double-jabbed people is a reflective of more adults in the UK getting their two doses.
The overall number of estimated daily new symptomatic cases is 60,480 – a figure which has remained stable over the past six days.
In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 82 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid, and the R rate is thought to be 1 in the UK.
“Herd immunity” close
Some experts have claimed the staggering fall in cases recently is not a fluke, and instead suggests the UK is close to herd immunity.
Herd immunity refers to where enough people in a population have immunity to infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading.
Dr David Matthews, a virologist and expert in coronaviruses from the University of Bristol, told the Telegraph: “In terms of herd immunity – by which we mean the virus has managed to reach everybody and therefore most people will have a level of immune memory – I suspect we’re very close to it.
“Assuming nothing truly spectacularly leftfield happens, then this pandemic is pretty much over for the UK. I suspect we will not see a major surge this winter, or any serious levels of fatalities.
“The more we close the gap on the last 10 per cent who haven’t had the vaccine, the better we will be. Everyone will eventually meet the virus and it is far better to do so vaccinated.”
Prof Lawrence Young, a virologist and oncologist at University of Warwick, said the UK “doesn’t have enough vaccines [administered] to have herd immunity” yet.
He told The Sun: “There are mounting concerns the predominant spread is in younger people and not enough 18-30 are coming forward for vaccination.”
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last night that “three in five adults aged 18-24” have received a first dose.
“I urge all those yet to get their first or second dose to take advantage of the hundreds of pop-ups around the country and help us cautiously get back to normality”, he said.
Source: Read Full Article