Boris Johnson has insisted that there is “nothing in the data at the moment” to prevent an end to the Covid-19 restrictions in England later this month, as the virus death toll is at its lowest in eight months. level fell.
But the prime minister warned caution was needed, adding that there is “no question” of an increase in the infection rate.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 9,860 deaths from all causes registered in the week ending May 21, and of these, 1.1% (107 deaths) had “novel coronavirus” mentioned on the death certificate.
The last time the ratio was so low was in the week ending September 11, when the virus accounted for 1.0% of deaths, according to a PA news agency analysis.
At the peak of the second wave, in the week ending January 29, Covid-19 accounted for 45.7% of the registered deaths.
The figures come on the same day it was confirmed that 75% of UK adults across the UK had now had their first coronavirus jab, and 50% of adults in England had received both doses.
A total of 39,585,665 first doses have been distributed so far since vaccination began about six months ago.
This equates to 75.2% of all people aged 18 and over.
Debate continues over whether the final phase of unlock restrictions in England can go ahead on June 21, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus variant first identified in India.
Mr Johnson said on Wednesday that “there is nothing in the data at this time that means we cannot proceed” with the next phase.
But he warned: “We have to be very cautious because there is no question, the ONS data of infection rates are showing an increase.
The prime minister said: “We always knew this was going to happen, don’t forget, we have always said that the steps we have taken will lead to an increase in infections.
“We need to work on the extent to which the vaccination program has protected those of us, especially the elderly and vulnerable, from a new surge.
“And there, I fear, the data is still unclear.”
However, the reduction in reported deaths, and the success of the vaccine, may give ministers confidence to proceed with the easing of restrictions.
Government figures based on people who died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 show that there were zero COVID-19 deaths in the UK on Tuesday.
The latest vaccine figures show that in Wales, 2,152,709 first doses have been given, equivalent to 85.3% of the adult population.
This is well ahead of the other three UK countries, with England now at 74.7% (33,085,145 first doses), Scotland at 74.1% (3,286,261 first doses) and Northern Ireland at 73.1% (1,061,550 first doses).
These figures have been published by four UK health agencies.
They also show that an estimated 49.5% of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including half (50.0%) adults in England.
47.5% of adults in Scotland are estimated to have received both doses, with 46.5% in Northern Ireland and 45.1% in Wales.
In England the vaccination program will be extended to all adults within weeks, while in Wales and Northern Ireland everyone aged 18 and over is able to book their jobs.
In Scotland, those over 18 are being invited to pre-register for the jab, with appointments commencing in mid-June.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit in Oxford on Wednesday: “Confidence in the vaccine program across the UK is skyrocketing.
“We top the list of places people are willing to take, or have taken, a COVID vaccine – around nine out of 10 of us.”
NHS England’s head for the NHS immunization programme, Dr Emily Lawson, said: “Today marks another major milestone in the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, as half of adults in England are now fully vaccinated, while three The quarters have received the first dose.
“Thanks to the NHS staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get jabs in arms, more than 55 million doses have been distributed since the NHS conducted the world’s first outside clinical trial in December to thousands of people. had saved his life.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is our most effective weapon against the coronavirus and there has never been a more important time to protect against it. Therefore, when you are contacted by the NHS, please book your lifesaving jab or bring forward your second dose of vital protection.”
Separate data from NHS England showed that the number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 in England has fallen by 98% since the peak of the second wave.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has shelved plans to ease restrictions in much of the country.
It announced on Tuesday that while some parts of the country would move to Level 1 of the Scottish government’s restrictions from Saturday, most of the central belt, including Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow, would be moved to Level 2.
Ms Sturgeon said the country was still at a “fragile and delicate point” in the fight with the virus, in an announcement of restrictions which she described as a “mixed bag”.
Scotland’s national clinical director, Jason Leach, warned that the Indian version is “somewhat challenging us and is spreading faster than we expected”.
Sir John Bell, the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, that the current figures “do not look too intimidating” but they still need to “play a couple of weeks” before the government can make its final decision in England. I may go ahead with the reopening on June 21.
He said: “I think the benefit now is whether we can try to vaccinate more people at a younger age, younger age groups and prevent more transmission.”
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of knews.uk and knews.uk does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.