The number of patients in hospital in England with Covid-19 has dropped below 1,000 for the first time since September.
A total of 976 patients were in hospital at 8am on May 6, according to figures from NHS England.
This is the first time the total has been below 1,000 since September 17 – nearly eight months ago – according to analysis by the PA news agency.
It is also down 97% from a record 34,336 hospital patients on January 18.
During the first wave of the virus, patient numbers peaked at 18,974 on April 12 2020.
Both south-east and south-west England are reporting numbers down 99% on their second-wave peak.
Eastern England has seen its number drop by 98%, the Midlands by 97%, while London, north-west England and the combined region of north-east England and Yorkshire have all seen drops of 96%.
The steep drop in patients is fresh evidence of the combined impact of the lockdown and vaccines in helping reduce the number of Covid-19 infections that lead to hospital admission.
Recent research by the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University found that Covid-19 infections “fell significantly” by 65% after a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, while two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offered similar levels of protection as a previous Covid-19 infection.
Vaccination was also found to be just as effective in individuals over 75 years or with underlying health conditions, as it was in those under 75 years or without underlying conditions.
Meanwhile hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19 are back to levels last seen in early September.
A total of 76 admissions were reported for May 4.
This is down 98% from the peak on January 12.
Three regions – London, south-east England and south-west England – have seen admissions dip into single figures.
London recorded just six admissions on May 4, compared with a second-wave peak of 977 admissions on January 6.