28 Apr COVID-19: UK close to bottom levels of coronavirus and third wave could be much less significant – Van-Tam | UK News
The UK is “at or close to the bottom” of levels of coronavirus cases, according to England’s deputy chief medical officer who praised the public for sticking to lockdown measures.
Speaking at a Downing Street COVID briefing, Professor Jonathan 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.”
He 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.”
But he also warned of “twists and turns ahead” and said he anticipated “some degree of bumpiness” probably in the autumn and winter.
The UK government has announced it has secured another 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to use as booster jabs to protect the country’s progress ahead of the colder months.
Prof Van-Tam said the modelling suggested there will be a third wave in the UK but it “may be just a third upsurge and much less significant”.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that the third wave of coronavirus that has been sweeping Europe will eventually “wash up on our shores”.
Prof Van-Tam said in the next weeks as further lockdown measures in England are set to be eased there will be “good pressures” and “bad pressures” on R.
R represents the average number of people a person with the virus goes on to infect.
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially – but it is shrinking if it is below 1.
He said the bad pressures would be the rising levels of mixing among Britons which would have a “propensity to increase R”.
But he also said the continuing vaccine rollout to younger people would put “downward pressure” on R, as he likened it to “competing forces”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was on track to release further lockdown restrictions, including allowing some indoor mixing between households, next month.
He said: “The data show that we are essentially precisely on track for where we expected to be at this point and that is obviously good news.
“The dates we set out are not-before dates because we want to see the impact of each step before the decision to take the next step.
“The good news is that as far as the next step is concerned, which is in a few weeks’ time – and we’re going to keep monitoring the data – but as of today, we are on track for step three on May 17 and that is good news.”