Covid R rate shrinking in Britain faster than any country in the world

THE Covid epidemic is shrinking faster in Britain than almost anywhere else in the world — indicating that our third wave is over, official figures showed yesterday.

Vaccines have forced the virus into retreat despite restrictions ending last month.

And Public Health England said the crucial R rate — a measure of how virulent it is — has plummeted as low as 0.8 for the first time since lockdown.

Separate research from King’s College London backed up the figures.

Dr Claire Steves said: “This is the good news the UK has been waiting for.

"We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. This pandemic definitely isn’t over yet as cases remain very high — but the signs are very positive.”

The current R rate means every ten people infected are now passing it on to just eight others.

As long as the rate remains below one, the outbreak is shrinking. The further below one it gets, the faster it will shrink.

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R rates are much higher across Europe and the world.

In Germany it is currently 1.6, in France 1.3, Sweden 1.4, Italy 1.2, Belgium 1.1 and Spain 1.02.

Only tiny Luxembourg has a marginally lower R rate — currently 0.79.

In Israel it is 1.5, in the US 1.4 and even in ­Australia, with a “zero-Covid” policy, it is 1.3.

The Office for National Statistics found case rates are down across all regions of the UK except Northern Ireland, where the Delta variant emerged slightly later.

Prof James Naismith, of Oxford University, said: “This is good news. This third Delta wave burned brightly but peaked much faster than I and many others expected.”

Meanwhile the UK hit the milestone of six million confirmed cases of Covid since the pandemic began in March of last year.

Another 31,808 people tested positive yesterday and 92 more deaths were recorded.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Latest hospitalisation figures show once again how important it is we all come forward to receive both doses of the vaccine as soon as we are able to do so."

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