Symptom-tracking app claims Covid cases are falling

Has Britain’s third Covid wave peaked already? Symptom-tracking app claims number of people falling ill with virus every day has FALLEN for first time since May

  • King’s College London scientists estimated 33,118 people were catching the virus every day last week
  • For comparison, they said 33,723 people were getting infected every day during the previous spell
  • Professor Tim Spector, who leads the app, said cases were ‘plateauing’ across the country 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

The number of Britons falling ill with Covid every day has dipped for the first time since May, a symptom-tracking study suggested today.

King’s College London scientists estimated 33,118 people were catching the virus daily in the week ending July 10 — compared to 33,723 in the previous seven-day spell.

Cases had been rising rapidly throughout June, with the easing of restrictions blamed for sparking a third wave — although some scientists said Euro 2020 had led to a surge in infections.

But cases in Scotland have halved in the past-fortnight, the King’s app estimated, coinciding with the national team being knocked out of the football tournament in the group stages. 

Professor Tim Spector, the top epidemiologist who leads the app, said they were seeing cases ‘plateau’ across the country but the rate of decline was slower than during the second wave. Earlier this week he predicted they may have peaked already. 

He said: ‘We are seeing the overall incidence rates plateau in the UK with an R value of 1.0, which is good news.  

‘[But] the numbers are still high with around one in 142 people with Covid, so we’ll keep a close eye on numbers and the effect of the Euro Football Championship in the coming days and weeks.’

Scientists have raised concerns the Covid symptom study — which relies on daily reports from more than a million Britons — is no longer a ‘reliable enough guide’.

No other survey has yet to point to a downturn in cases, although official figures do back up claims that Scotland’s outbreak is falling. 

Test and Trace figures published today found cases had surged by 43 per cent in the week to July 7, after 194,000 new infections were recorded over the seven-day period. 

Britain yesterday recorded more than 42,000 cases for the first time since mid-January, when the second wave was beginning to die down. Ministers fear this could hit the 100,000 figure before August. 

Oxford University’s Professor James Naismith has raised concerns over the apps figures. Responding to surging daily cases yesterday, he said: ‘It would suggest that ZOE is not providing a reliable guide to this wave since it had noted a peak of 33,000 cases.

‘Of course, no measure is perfect and ZOE has proven informative in the past, it may be changes in symptoms and/or behaviour are confounding it.’ 

The latest ZOE/King’s College study — which is released every week — estimates cases have dropped by one per cent across the country.

It marks the first fall since May 22 at the end of the second wave, when they dipped by seven per cent to 2,550 new infections a day.

Scotland was a key driver of this week’s drop in cases, with daily infections projected to have nearly halved from 4,780 to 2,760.

It comes just three weeks after the team crashed out of the Euro 2020 tournament, which has been repeatedly linked to surging infections.

A breakdown of the figures revealed infections were also down by a fifth among people who have not got the vaccine but surged by two fifths in those who have received at least one dose.

Professor Spector added cases were likely rising among vaccinated Britons because the virus was ‘running out’ of unvaccinated people with no immunity to infect. 

Professor Spector said: ‘In the UK, new cases in vaccinated people are still going up and soon will outpace unvaccinated cases. This is probably because we’re running out of unvaccinated susceptible people to infect as more and more people get the vaccine.

‘While the figures look worrying, it is important to highlight that vaccines have massively reduced severe infections and post-vaccination Covid is a much milder disease for most people. The main concern is now the risk of long Covid.’

‘Pingdemic’ chaos with record 520,000 alerts sent by NHS app last week as minister admits No10 is ‘concerned’ millions may have to take time off work to self-isolate 

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

The NHS Covid contact-tracing app sent out a record 520,000 self-isolation alerts last week, official figures revealed today amid mounting concerns over the chaos triggered by the ‘pingdemic’.

The number of ‘pings’ dished out by the software in the week ending July 7 was the highest since data was first published in January, and was up 46 per cent on the previous seven-day spell.

Fears have been raised that the software could spark a ‘pingdemic’, with millions alerted they have been near someone who tested positive for the virus and asked to stay home.

Businesses have warned that with workers forced to take time off, supermarket shelves could be left empty and mountains of rubbish may pile up in the street.

But ministers are not planning to water down the app because of mounting concern over rising case numbers, it was claimed today.

Infections have soared over the past weeks, with some experts attributing the sharp rise to England’s progress in the Euros.

Government officials have been tasked with tweaking the software to reduce the number of people who are ‘pinged’ and told to self-isolate.

But sources told The Times that no imminent changes are expected, and that it may only be made weaker on August 16 — the same day quarantine rules end for the fully-vaccinated.

They also claimed a review of the app ordered by the newly-appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid may not amount to anything.

It comes as a car plant in Sunderland is thrown into chaos, with hundreds of workers told they have been exposed to Covid and must self-isolate.

And amid concerns care homes left short-staffed by the app could be putting vulnerable people at risk.

Unions have said factories across the country are on the verge of shutting down because of pings from the app.

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