UK seeing ‘decline in coronavirus infections’ says expert
Appearing on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, January 31, Dr Hopkins said there is beginning to be a decline in Covid cases in all age groups. However, it’s a “bit early” to see if this is directly related to the vaccination roll-out. The number of overall Covid cases has dramatically reduced by “over 30 percent” in the past two weeks, she told Mr Marr. Hesitant to attribute the nose-dive of infection rates to the Covid jabs, Dr Hopkins said she’d “like to see a divergence in case rates in the over 70s that have been vaccinated from younger age groups”.
If the data begins to demonstrate this divergence, then Hopkins would feel comfortable labelling Covid vaccines as a “declining factor”.
With more than 80 percent of the over 80s age group having had their first jab, Hopkins “expects to see the impact of the vaccine in hospitalisations” in the next fortnight.
“Our number of cases has come down quite fast,” said Dr Hopkins. “Over 30 percent in the past two weeks.”
However, hospitalisations and people admitted to hospitals “lag behind” so she is wary of the figures.
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Even though coronavirus cases are declining, hospital capacity is still being stretched.
“In-patients at hospitals are at very high levels, more than 23,000 still,” explained Dr Hopkins.
As treatments have improved, people are staying in hospitals for longer and “people aren’t dying [from the disease] as quickly as they were in the first wave”.
This means there are “large numbers of people in intensive care units”, and the pressure on the NHS is expected to remain for “a couple of months”.
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In the past fortnight the number of admissions to hospital has dropped from around 4,500 to 3,100 people.
Dr Hopkins shared her expert opinion that the NHS will be “under pressure till the end of March”.
In regards to relaxing the national lockdown rules, Dr Hopkins said the “final decision” is set by government.
Yet, no matter when restrictions ease, Hopkins urged it needs to be done “with caution”.
Whenever rules are relaxed there will be a “two-week period” to assess the impact.
Should Covid cases begin to rise again, the government must be able to “stamp down quite fast”.
Hopkins hopes this summer will be “similar to last summer” in terms of businesses being open.
“This has been a very difficult time,” she said, adding: “Let’s get the population vaccinated.”
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