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‘Alarming’ study suggest 45,000 people are catching COVID every day in England

45,000 people are catching COVID every day in England, an 'alarming' study has reported, despite mass movements still casting skepticism on the scale of the virus (Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
45,000 people are catching COVID every day in England, an ‘alarming’ study has reported, despite mass movements still casting skepticism on the scale of the virus (Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The largest home testing study for coronavirus suggests that new infections have reached 45,000 every day in England.

An analysis of swab tests taken by 175,000 people between 18 September and 5 October found that one in every 170 tests was returning a positive result.

The research, led by Imperial College London, reports that 0.60% of the population, or 60 per 10,000, had the SARS-CoV-2 virus, compared to 0.13% in the previous round of testing.

Professor Paul Elliott, from the School of Public Health, and director of the REACT programme which conducted the research, said: “Our robust findings paint a concerning picture of the growing epidemic across England. While certain areas are worse affected, if left unabated then infection trends will follow nation-wide and could lead to high levels of unnecessary death and illness from the disease.”

On 21 September two of Boris Johnson’s top advisers warned the UK could see 49,000 new cases of coronavirus by mid-October unless action was taken to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (right) warned in September that the UK was at a "critical point" in the pandemic (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)
Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (right) warned in September that the UK was at a “critical point” in the pandemic (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said such a scenario could see 200 daily deaths by November as hospitalisation figures increase, while England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said too little action risked the virus becoming “out of control”.

The pair said the UK was at a “critical point” in the pandemic.

Vallance told a Downing Street briefing: “At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.

“If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days… if that continued you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.

“50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November, say, to 200-plus deaths per day

“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”

Watch: What is long COVID?

The REACT-5 research suggesting 45,000 cases per day came as the Office for National Statistics confirmed a huge leap in case numbers.

ONS figures, published Friday, suggested there were 224,400 people with COVID-19 between between 25 September and 1 October, the latest dates for which data is available.

This was nearly double the 116,600 people with COVID the week before, despite lockdown measures and the stark warnings from Valance and Whitty.

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and University of Oxford, said: “The virus has not changed.

“The ONS survey is grim reading and in conjunction with the REACT-5 study alarming. The two surveys report rather different absolute numbers,

What you need to know about catching up during the COVID-19 pandemic

<span class="caption">Getting children vaccinated can protect them and others from potentially deadly diseases.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/photo-essay-in-a-mother-child-care-center-in-the-suburban-news-photo/151061313" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:BSIP/UIG via Getty Images">BSIP/UIG via Getty Images</a></span>
Getting children vaccinated can protect them and others from potentially deadly diseases. BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

This spring, after stay-at-home orders were announced and schools shut down across the nation, many families stopped going to their pediatrician. As a result, kids have fallen behind on important childhood vaccinations.

Vaccination rates declined starkly after mid-March, with up to 60% reductions in some areas of the country. Nationwide, vaccination rates dropped by 22% among Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program recipients under 2.

Now that kids are coming back to pediatricians like me, many parents have questions about catching up.

Why is it a problem that my child is behind on vaccines?

Vaccines protect your child from serious communicable diseases including brain infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections and, in the case of the HPV and hepatitis B vaccines, even some types of cancer. The vaccine schedule we use was created to maximize your child’s protection throughout life.

In addition to protecting your child, vaccines protect others by decreasing the circulation of dangerous germs in our communities – we call this “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity is especially important to protect people who can’t get certain vaccines for medical reasons. When enough people are vaccinated, a disease can disappear altogether. For example, close to 95% of people need to be vaccinated against measles to stop transmission of that virus. When the number of people who are adequately vaccinated drops too low, the whole community is at risk of an outbreak.

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing across the country, the last thing we need is an outbreak of another deadly disease.

How do I figure out what my child needs to catch up?

This depends on your child’s age and which vaccines they’ve already received. The best way to figure out what your child needs is to call your pediatrician’s office and ask. There is a clear “catch-up schedule” that we use to figure out which vaccines a child needs and when they can be given.

Many parents worry that getting too many shots at once could be dangerous. However, the amount of material contained in each vaccine is very, very small compared with all the different germs and substances our kids breathe in, eat and drink every day, not to mention what they’re exposed to when they scrape a knee or elbow.

There really is no such thing as too many shots at once under current guidelines, although some shots can’t be given together on the same day.

What if my child is not feeling well when the pediatrician wants to give the vaccines?

For most kids, it is perfectly safe to get vaccines when they have a mild illness – including a fever. Also, vaccines are no less effective if given when your child is sick.

It’s understandable that getting a lot of shots at once when your child isn’t feeling well can be upsetting for the child. You can talk to your pediatrician about which shots are most critical and ask