Fewer than one in 1,000 patients are dying from Covid now compared to one in 90 during second wave

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Fewer than one in a thousand people who catch Covid in England now die from the disease, according to scientists at Cambridge University.

They estimate the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of coronavirus has been driven down to 0.085 per cent thanks to the country’s hugely successful vaccine rollout. 

For comparison, the team at Cambridge’s Medical Research Council (MRC) biostatistics unit estimated that about one in 90 cases (1.1 per cent) resulted in death at the end of the second wave.  

In the most vulnerable over-75s group, the IFR is now thought to be under 2 per cent after plummeting from 17 per cent during the winter peak in January.

Experts told MailOnline that while the findings were encouraging, the death rate will likely increase in the coming weeks as a result of the rise of the Indian variant. 

Department of Health data shows a further 14,876 Covid cases were recorded yesterday, up 60 per cent from last week. But while deaths are slowly creeping up, they remain relatively low, with 18 victims announced on Sunday. 

The promising figures could be seized upon by newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid who this afternoon is due to deliver his verdict on whether all lockdown restrictions can be lifted in England on July 19.

Mr Javid, who is thought to be more lockdown-sceptic than his predecessor, is expected to say the country is on track for the new terminus date when he gives a statement to MPs in the House of Commons. 

But Mr Javid will reportedly say the nation is not yet in a position to bring forward the unlocking to July 5, when SAGE and ministers are due to review the Covid situation next. 

The former Home Secretary and Chancellor replaced Matt Hancock as Health Secretary on Saturday after Mr Hancock was caught kissing his aide.

This graph shows the proportion of people who catch Covid that are dying from the disease by age group. The rate has fallen markedly among older people, who are most at risk from the virus, since the vaccine roll-out began in January

This graph shows the proportion of people who catch Covid that are dying from the disease by age group. The rate has fallen markedly among older people, who are most at risk from the virus, since the vaccine roll-out began in January

Cambridge University scientists estimated fewer than one in a thousand people who catch Covid are dying from the disease following a successful vaccination roll-out. They believe that the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) is 0.085 per cent, which is shown in the above graph but as a decimal rather than a percentage

Among over-75s just two per cent of those who caught Covid were actually dying from the disease — one in 55 —, compared to around 17 per cent at the height of the second wave — one in five

Cambridge University scientists estimated fewer than one in a thousand people who catch Covid are dying from the disease following a successful vaccination roll-out. They believe that the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) is 0.085 per cent, which is shown left in the above graph but as a decimal rather than a percentage. As a decimal, 0.085 per cent is expressed as 0.00085. In the most vulnerable over-75s group, the IFR is now thought to be under 2 per cent after plummeting (shown right) from 17 per cent. Two per cent as a decimal is expressed as 0.02 per cent

Newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left) is expected to signal that England's Covid restrictions can be eased as planned on July 19.

Mr Javid was appointed by Boris Johnson (pictured today) over the weekend after Matt Hancock resigned after an affair with his aide was revealed

Newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left) is expected to signal that England’s Covid restrictions can be eased as planned on July 19. He was appointed by Boris Johnson over the weekend after Matt Hancock resigned after an affair with his aide was revealed

The above table shows the risk of dying from Covid after catching the disease at the peak of the second wave in January, first column, and now after more than half of all people in Britain have received two doses of the Covid vaccine, second column. The estimates were calculated by Cambridge University scientists and are for England only. Overall for all age groups one in 90 (1.1 per cent) of those who caught the virus died from the disease in the darkest days of January. For comparison, fewer than one in 1,000 (0.085 per cent) of infected individuals were dying in June. Among over-75s only 2.1 per cent of those who caught the virus died from it in June, compared to 17 per cent in January. But for children and teenagers there risk of dying from the virus has barely changed between January (0.0015 per cent) and June (0.0011 per cent)

The above table shows the risk of dying from Covid after catching the disease at the peak of the second wave in January, first column, and now after more than half of all people in Britain have received two doses of the Covid vaccine, second column. The estimates were calculated by Cambridge University scientists and are for England only. Overall for all age groups one in 90 (1.1 per cent) of those who caught the virus died from the disease in the darkest days of January. For comparison, fewer than one in 1,000 (0.085 per cent) of infected individuals were dying in June. Among over-75s only 2.1 per cent of those who caught the virus died from it in June, compared to 17 per cent in January. But for children and teenagers there risk of dying from the virus has barely changed between January (0.0015 per cent) and June (0.0011 per cent)

The MRC ‘nowcasting’ unit estimates the number of infections that lead to fatalities based on official data including daily Covid cases, deaths and hospital admissions. It also takes into account asymptomatic cases who are missed by the centralised testing scheme.

Booster jabs are not needed this winter because two doses work well against the Indian variant, expert says 

There is no need to give Britons booster Covid vaccines this year because the current jabs work so well, a leading scientist claimed today.

Oxford University’s Professor Andrew Pollard, the lead researcher behind trials of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said sending the extra doses to developing countries where the most vulnerable are yet to receive any jab would be a better use of the UK’s supplies.

His comments came despite his team at Oxford finding that a booster third dose stimulates an even better immune response than sticking to the current two-dose regimen.

The trial of 90 Britons showed for the first time that the third dose ‘significantly’ boosts the antibody and T-cell counts, key indicators that the body is primed to defend against Covid.

Professor Pollard said booster vaccines were a ‘good tool’ to have in Britain’s arsenal.

But he warned that because the vaccines are protecting people so effectively against the Indian variant, there was little need to vaccinate people for a third time this winter.

Two doses of the AstraZeneca jab have been shown to reduce hospitalisations by more than 90 per cent against both the Indian and Kent variants.

There is not enough data to show whether a third jab would improve that figure, he said.

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that the government would set out plans for an autumn booster programme within the next few weeks.

Professor Pollard said: ‘This is about preparedness. The study shows we can boost responses with extra AstraZeneca vaccines.

‘So that’s a good tool if needed. It is about preparedness rather than proving we need it. We still need more data for that.’

He added that there is ‘no indication at the moment that we need boosters’.

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, said it was likely the number of infections leading to deaths would rise in the coming weeks because of the rapid rise in cases over the past two months.

‘We also have got to remember that what we are dealing with now is an increasing situation (of cases) and an increasing rate of infection,’ he told MailOnline.

‘Most people who have had the infection are in the early stages of it so they won’t have died yet.

‘I think it will go up later on, but it won’t go anywhere near the one in 90 (at the peak of the second wave), but I expect more than one in a thousand.’

Asked whether the July 19 easing was likely to go ahead, he said this would ‘probably’ happen.

‘There is evidence — good evidence — it seems that the vaccine is working and the vaccines are protecting’ against serious disease and death, he added.  

The latest findings are more confirmation that the vaccines are breaking the link between infections and deaths.

So far 32.4million British adults — or 61 per cent — have been fully immunised and in total 44million — 84 per cent have been given at least one dose. 

The vaccines have been shown to be up to 96 per cent effective at stopping severe illness and hospitalisation from the Indian variant after two doses — and even better at preventing deaths. 

But one dose is significantly weaker against the new strain than older versions of the virus, which prompted the four-week delay of the original June 21 Freedom Day because millions of over-40s are still to get their follow-up shot.    

The Cambridge team suggested the number of people dying after catching the virus was highest among the over-75s, followed by 65 to 74-year-olds, although the rate in both groups was far lower than during the darkest days of January.

For 65 to 74-year-olds one in 200 were now dying after catching the virus (0.46 per cent). For comparison, in the darkest days of January it was one in 40 (2.5 per cent).

Older people are most at risk of hospitalisation and death if they catch the virus, reams of official data shows. They were prioritised in the vaccines roll-out which aimed to protect the most vulnerable first. 

Among children and teenagers (5 to 14-year-olds) the MRC team estimated their risk of death after catching the virus was very low at one in 90,000 (0.0011 per cent). Even in the darkest days of the pandemic it was nearly one in 70,000 (0.0015 per cent), far below the level in older age groups. 

Children and teenagers have been at an incredibly low risk throughout the pandemic.

For 15 to 24-year-olds, the risk of dying after catching the virus was one in 76,000 (0.0013 per cent) compared to one in 25,000 (0.004 per cent) in January.

Among 25 to 44-year-olds, it was one in 6,600 (0.015 per cent), whereas it was one in 3,000 (0.029 per cent) during the darkest days of the second wave.

And for 45 to 64-year-olds, it was one in 700 (0.13 per cent), a significant drop from almost one in 300 (0.37 per cent) in January.

Professor Paul Hunter, a virologist from the University of East Anglia, said the death rate was ‘remarkably low’ compared to the situation in the second wave.

‘You can see deaths are increasing, as you would expect from the rapidly increasing case numbers, but still at a very low level compared to the same point of the second wave,’ he told The Times.

He added he would be wary of relying too much on the MRC unit’s model because it can be prone to unrealistic fluctuations. But he added it was ‘reassuring, even though cases are going up more quickly’.

Mr Javid today suggested on a vists to St Thomas’ Hospital in London that it was his ‘absolute priority’ to lift restrictions as soon as possible, but also stressed the need for caution to ensure the changes were ‘irreversible’.

He told reporters: ‘I want to see the restrictions lifted and life going back to normal as quickly as possible.

‘Right here and now that is my absolute priority. I want to see those restrictions lifted as soon as we can, as quickly as possible. 

‘In terms of the road map to that you’ll have to wait for my statement to Parliament later today. It’s going to be irreversible, there’s no going back. That’s why we want to be careful during that process.’

It comes as a leading scientist today claimed there was no need to give Britons booster Covid vaccines this year because jabs work so well against the current crop of variants. 

Oxford University’s Professor Andrew Pollard, the lead researcher behind trials of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said sending the extra doses to developing countries where the most vulnerable are yet to receive any jab would be a better use of the UK’s supplies.

His comments came despite his team at Oxford finding that a booster third dose stimulates an even better immune response than sticking to the current two-dose regimen.

The trial of 90 Britons showed for the first time that the third dose ‘significantly’ boosts the antibody and T-cell counts, key indicators that the body is primed to defend against Covid. 

Professor Pollard said: ‘This is about preparedness. The study shows we can boost responses with extra AstraZeneca vaccines.

‘So that’s a good tool if needed. It is about preparedness rather than proving we need it. We still need more data for that.’

He added that there is ‘no indication at the moment that we need boosters’.

Mr Javid said yesterday that fighting the pandemic would be his first priority in office.

Health sources yesterday said the easing of Covid restrictions was ‘looking good for July 19’, despite new figures showing that cases have jumped by almost 60 per cent in the last week.

Mr Javid, a former chancellor and business secretary, has spoken repeatedly over the last year about the need to reopen the economy at the earliest opportunity.

Allies have said his appointment would ‘tip the balance’ in the Cabinet in favour of opening back up.

Former aide Salma Shah said Mr Javid’s ‘liberal’ instincts were likely to result in a very different approach to that of Mr Hancock, who championed lockdown policy.

‘The immediate thing you are going to see is a change in complexion around the Cabinet table,’ she said. ‘He [Mr Javid] could be defined as a lot more liberal when it comes to Covid restrictions. I think you will see that immediately.’

But in an early sign of the internal battles the Health Secretary is likely to face, the Department of Health later put out another statement which dropped mention of his desire to lift restrictions ‘as soon as possible’.

Health experts have warned the Health Secretary faces a ‘baptism of fire’, with a groaning in-tray that includes record waiting lists, disputes on nurses pay and a crisis in social care — as well as dealing with the pandemic.   

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