UK close to bottom of Covid case levels, says Jonathan Van-Tam

Luke O'Reilly
·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The UK is “close to the bottom” of coronavirus case levels, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said, as the Government secured a further 60 million booster jabs for later in the year.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 were “in very low levels” and comparable to September of last year, adding that the number of people in hospital due to the virus is expected to drop further.

He said the “disappearance of our third wave” was thanks to the public following restrictions, while the vaccination programme had “undoubtedly helped” in recent months.

It comes as it was announced an extra 60 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus jab have been secured for a booster vaccination programme in the autumn.

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing on Wednesday, Prof Van-Tam said: “We are really in very low levels that are comparable to where we were in September last year.

“We are running as a typical seven-day average at just over 2,000 people testing positive per day.

“My sense is that probably we are at or close to the bottom at the moment in terms of this level of disease in the UK.”

Presenting data during the briefing, Prof Van-Tam added: “Most of the steady decline we have seen, the disappearance of our third wave, has been down to the efforts of the British people in following lockdown.

“The vaccine has undoubtedly helped in the later stages and there is good evidence that the death rate in the elderly has dropped faster than it has in the younger age groups and it has dropped faster than it did in the second wave, and that is undoubtedly a vaccine effect.

“What is important about these vaccines and the vaccine rollout is it really is the way out of getting into trouble of the same size and magnitude ever again, and that’s why it’s important that this job must get finished.”

Matt Hancock emphasised the importance of “protecting the progress that we have made”Getty Images
Matt Hancock emphasised the importance of “protecting the progress that we have made”Getty Images

Matt Hancock emphasised the importance of “protecting the progress that we have made” in the pandemic and said the extra doses would be used alongside other approved vaccines as part of a programme in the autumn.

The Health Secretary told the press conference: “That is all about protecting the progress that we have made.

“We have a clear route out of this crisis but this is no time for complacency, it’s a time for caution – so we can keep the virus under control while we take steps back to normal life.”

Officials are preparing a booster programme based on clinical need to ensure people have the strongest possible protection against the virus, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

This additional stock of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab – which has been rolled out in the UK since December – will be used alongside other approved vaccines for the booster programme.

The Government said it will publish further details on the booster programme in due course, with the policy informed by advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

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UK Covid Live: UK close to bottom levels of Covid cases as 60m Pfizer booster vaccines secured