The UK paradox

The UK paradox

european countries are eyeing infection and hospitalization rates in the uk where many coveted restrictions were lifted on the 19th of july experts have been confounded by uk health data which initially showed daily case numbers declining but the latest figures from the office for national statistics suggest that the opposite may be true with many cases undetected because thousands of people have been told to self-isolate by contact tracers uk prime minister boris johnson has argued that with more than 70 percent of adults fully vaccinated lifting restrictions was justified despite the presence of the more transmissible delta variant so let’s see what we can learn from the uk example john campbell is a nurse teacher and health educator he joins us from carlisle in the north of england welcome to dw let’s start by seeing if we can clarify what’s going on there in england which way are the graphs going in terms of infections hospitalizations and deaths it’s a very good question cases went down consistently for seven days and then they went up for a couple of days and today they’re down again slightly but this is quite at odds really with the covered symptom tracker data which has showed almost twice as many symptomatic cases throughout the week last week but approximately level so it’s rather hard to say what’s happening the the decrease in cases that we’ve seen over the seven days in the uk is more than you would normally expect towards the end of a pandemic so there could be some anomaly there going on in the data that’s yet to be fully clarified it could be to do with schools breaking up a couple of weeks ago what’s going to be really interesting of course is what happens over the next few days because as you rightly said there phil the restrictions were eased on the 19th so increasing in cases as a result of increased transmission we would expect to see sort of today tomorrow and over the next few days so it’s how this trip how this trend is going to go really and is there any lesson to be learned uh from the order that england has done this because it removed restrictions and allowed people more opportunities to mix and at the same time told tens of thousands to isolate after coming in contact with potentially infected people and now the country of course is suffering staff shortages as a result it is a real paradox isn’t it phil i completely agree so the 19th of july these restrictions were lifted and basically all legal restrictions were lifted now we’re still advised to carry on social distancing we’re still advised to wear masks in public places it’s mandated sometimes on public transport but then we have this coverage symptom tracker app which the uk is using and the latest data shows there’s almost 700 000 people that have been pinged as contacts and told to self-isolate for for 10 days now the regulations on this are going to change on the 16th of august when that will no longer be mandated but at the moment it is and even if people test positive they have to carry on with their ten-day self-isolation and the other thing about these 700 000 people is it’s skewed towards the younger age groups so uh 20s more than 30s 30s more than 40s and older people over retirement age not so much at all so this has taken a real dent out of the workforce it’s affecting things like policing defense food transport and supermarkets healthcare provision of course and quite a lot of manufacturing it’s really quite a strain on that as people are have to mandate for this period of time it’s not it’s not it’s not actually mandated if you get this ping if you get the covered notification but quite a lot of those people are contacted by nh nhs test and trace and then it does become a legally binding uh 10 day self isolation and this delta uh variant if we’ve been doubly vaccinated do we still need to worry about it you know i think we do because there’s new data from the cdc just released today from the united states that shows that people are doubly vaccinated while they’re less likely to become infected maybe three times less likely to become infected if they do become infected they can shed pretty well the same viral load as someone who is not vaccinated and of course that’s going to mean that they can pass the virus on and they can potentially pass the virus on to someone who is unvaccinated who get could get seriously ill hospitalized or potentially even die from that the in terms of the person themselves who’ve been doubly vaccinated they’re about 10 times less likely to be hospitalized so the risk to them is fairly small but the risk of them passing the virus onto others with less protection is still there although some people of course are still hospitalized who’ve been vaccinated and indeed the proportion of vaccinated people who are being hospitalized is increasing for the simple reason that there’s more vaccinated people in the country now and there’s less unvaccinated people as a percentage of the total population so as we look to the future um more and more uh popular more and more a greater proportion of populations become vaccinated but these is it inevitable that there will be more variants of concern against which these vaccines will have less of an effect um variance of concern perhaps in terms of immune escape it’s really hard to imagine a virus which is much more transmissible than this current delta virus this is transmitting in the same rate as chickenpox or measles it’s remarkably transmissible my main concern is when we’re in a situation now where a lot of people are vaccinated but there’s still quite a high prevalence of the vax of the virus around then the type of virus that’s going to survive is the type that escapes the immune system that’s stimulated by the vaccine so we could get these immune escape vaccines and we could end up with some variants which are somewhat resistant at least to the vaccines that we have at the moment now this isn’t happening to any great degree at the moment to some small extent but not to a great degree but but that is the risk other than that i’m fairly comfortable at the moment at least in the uk and most of europe where vaccination rates are going up that although we might see some short-term increase in cases i’m fairly confident that is not going to be associated with a very fast rising hospitalization or indeed deaths hospitalizations are slightly up on the past week but nothing like what they were in the january peak so i think there is scope for for cautious optimism but to proceed with great caution and prudence for the next month or so that’s very clear thank you so much uh for joining us sir john john campbell uh health education thank you thank you you
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The UK paradox

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