BRITAIN’S vaccination blitz has helped drive down weekly Covid deaths to their lowest level in 14 months.
Official figures reveal the seven-day average for fatalities to just six – a weekly drop of 40 per cent.
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The last time pandemic deaths were so low was in early March 2020, before the first lockdown was imposed.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told The Sun the drop in fatalities is largely thanks to the vaccination programme.
He said: “You can blame the drop in deaths on the vaccine. That is the primary thing that stopped those death rates and that’s really satisfying.
“Deaths are now much lower compared to hospitalisations. They are about 10 per cent, whereas in January they were over a quarter. So that’s the impact of the vaccine”.
But Prof Hunter warned despite the positive figures, it is too soon to say whether the super-contagious Indian variant will delay the end of lockdown.
More than 37.5million people have had at least one dose – 71 per cent of all adults.
And a million Brits in their early 30s will be invited for the Covid jabs from today.
People aged 32 and 33 will be eligible for their first shot, with the immunisation blitz expected to extend to younger people next week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Only days after we extended the offer of a vaccine to 34 and 35 year olds, we are now rolling out the invite to 32 and 33 year olds – an incredible step forward in the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history.”
Real-world effectiveness data is expected to show one jab offers less than 50 per cent protection against falling ill from the Indian variant.
But two doses are much better at slashing the risk of symptomatic disease. It comes as a scheme to test sewage for Covid now covers two-thirds of the country.
Officials claim the alert system allows early identification of outbreaks. Public health teams have already been sent into Bristol and Luton to carry out surge testing thanks to the programme.
Experts now warn there are “early signs” Covid infections are back on the rise. Office for National Statistics figures show one in 1,110 people in England have the bug – up from one in 1,340 the previous week.
But Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, added: “Although we have seen an early indication of a potential increase in England, rates remain low and it is too soon to say if this is the start of a trend.”
The official R number has risen slightly and is now estimated to be between 0.9 and 1.1 across England. It means new infections are roughly stable.
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