Coronavirus UK: Scientist says case does NOT increase second wave

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Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, said the UK’s mini coronavirus outbreaks are ‘ripples’ caused by a failure to completely flatten the first outbreak

The UK’s mini coronavirus outbreaks are just ‘ripples’ caused by the inability to completely flatten the first outbreak and not evidence of a second wave, according to a senior expert.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist based at King’s College London, has shot down fears of a resurgence from Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

He said the climbing infections seen in parts of England, such as Greater Manchester, were just ripples from the first wave, which killed more than 56,000 Britons.

And Professor Spector blamed the pushes on the decision to relax the lockdown rules in England as 2,000 people still catch the virus every day.

For comparison, Scotland opted to cut daily infections to double digits before allowing businesses and equipment to reopen as part of its coronavirus strategy.

Professor Spector told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “Basically these [outbreaks in the north of England] the ripples of the first wave continue.

“Unlike other countries, we have failed to achieve levels much lower than 2,000 cases per day [before easing lockdown], so we’re just seeing this increase.

Professor Spector is the mastermind behind KCL’s Covid Symptom Tracking app, used by over a million Britons, which has helped scientists map the UK crisis and predict infection rates.

He said data from his app did not support the theory that cases were on the rise in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire – areas which saw some lockdown measures reintroduced last week in the midst of ‘an increase in cases.

Professor Spector was asked if the north of England really has spikes in cases, or if the numbers are skewed by other tests.

He said, “Well, it’s a bit of both. You need to understand how the testing system currently works, as there are a lot of random tests out there.

“Public health officials suspect epidemics, and then a lot of testing is done in those particular regions or factories or wherever.

And these produce these rather sporadic reports that show certain areas are popping up a lot, like what happened in the Manchester areas. Our data didn’t show massive peaks, they’re crawling all over the place and the north has had twice as many cases as the south.

Professor Spector was not the only expert to question the government’s decision last week to subject 4.5 million people in the Northwest to tough new lockdowns.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, also claimed this morning that Covid-19 cases are not actually rising – despite government figures showing an upward trend.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said cases were not increasing and the higher rates had been skewed by the increase in testing.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said cases were not increasing and the higher rates had been skewed by the increase in testing.

BORIS MAY PROHIBIT TRAVEL IN AND OUT OF LOCK ZONES

Boris Johnson could ban travel in and out of local lockdown areas under new plans that could force people over 50 to protect themselves.

The sweeping proposal is currently under discussion as Downing Street shakes its response to the crisis following localized flare-ups.

It is understood that ministers are keen to avoid another national lockdown and derail the economic recovery, which could take years.

Whitehall bosses are now developing a “flexible” strategy to restrict all movement in and out of target areas with high infection rates.

This means plans in March to isolate London to stem the spread of Covid-19 which were on hold but could be relaunched under the new targeted approach.

Officials have already been given enhanced powers giving them the ability to impose such travel bans with police enforcement.

It comes as officials drew up plans that could see millions of people being asked to stay in their homes if a second wave of coronavirus infections were to occur.

One option would have people between the ages of 50 and 70 get personalized risk scores as part of a significant expansion of the protection program.

He said the rise in infection rates was due to the greater number of people tested and warned of inaccuracies in the data, telling the Daily Telegraph: “Locking down the north was a rash move.

“Where’s the climb?” By test date through July, there is no change if you factor in all the increased testing in progress.

He warned there was an increase in cases detected due to more targeted testing in areas such as Oldham, the second worst-affected district in the country with 55.2 cases per 100,000 people last week.

Statistics show that nearly 500 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed every day in England at the start of July.

But that number rose to around 750 by the end of the month, which Professor Heneghan said was “not a sudden jump.”

Professor Heneghan added that the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases was likely due to an increase in second pillar testing.

The second pillar tests include coronavirus swab tests given to the public via DIY kits sent in the mail and at drive-thru centers.

The first pillar tests are those administered to the NHS and to caregivers, as well as to hospital patients.

Prof Heneghan pointed to data showing that the number of second pillar tests performed each day increased by 80 percent during the month of July to around 80,000.

But he said the number of cases detected per 100,000 tests was “flat” and they were in fact dropping for the first pillar.

Professor Heneghan said it was “essential” to adjust the number of tests performed, adding: “Why is nobody checking this at the government level? “

Explaining why cases are not increasing on his website, he wrote: “Leicester and Oldham have seen a significant increase in testing in a short period of time.

“Leicester, for example, in the first two weeks of July, carried out more tests than anywhere else in England: 15,122 tests were carried out in the two weeks leading up to July 13.

He also questioned the accuracy of the data, saying the differences in numbers “make it difficult to make judgments about what is happening on the ground.”

For example, Professor Heneghan wrote that England reported 576 cases on July 28 – but the government only recorded 547.

The Department of Health and Welfare says that “cases are reported when lab tests are completed and confirmed positive.”

Explaining the numbers, the health chiefs say: “Every day new cases are reported, but the dates they originate cover the days before.”

The numbers Prof Heneghan analyzed relate to the dates of the samples – when a person was tested for the virus, not when they were taken from positive samples.

He added: “Inaccuracies in the data and misinterpretation will often lead to errors in decisions regarding the imposition of restrictions.

Professor Heneghan warned that any interpretation of the numbers should take into account “fluctuations in test rates.”

Government data shows 753 people are stricken with a life-threatening infection every day across Britain.

By comparison, the seven-day moving average of coronavirus cases had fallen to 546 by early July.

This is not the first time Professor Heneghan has reported inaccuracies in government data.

Last month, he and another Oxford statistician, Dr Jason Oke, warned that the official daily death toll was too high.

The couple calculated that less than 40 people die each day – even though numbers show the seven-day moving average is still above 60.

It appeared the government was classifying people as victims of Covid-19 if they died from any cause after testing positive for the virus.

This meant that survivors would be added to the death toll, even if they were struck by a bus months after defeating the potentially fatal infection.

The shocking discovery prompted Matt Hancock to announce an “urgent” review of how Public Health England was counting deaths.

Prof Heneghan’s claims come amid growing fears of a second wave, with data suggesting cases are on the rise.

Boris Johnson announced last week that he was “pushing the brake pedal” to lift coronavirus restrictions that are still strangling parts of UK business.

He blamed a spike in cases, with separate figures suggesting 4,200 people now catch the virus every day in England – which has doubled since June.

But the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate was based on just 59 people who tested positive out of tens of thousands.

Separate NHS figures show cases are on the decline in Blackburn, Bradford and Leicester, three of the worst affected authorities in the country.

However, infection rates are rising in all but three boroughs of Greater Manchester and spiraling rapidly in Swindon.

It comes as the government begins testing wastewater to track the coronavirus and stop local outbreaks.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the measure would give officials a “head start” in tackling new epidemics.

Boris Johnson could also ban travel in and out of local lockdown areas under new plans that could force people over 50 to protect themselves.

The sweeping proposal is currently under discussion as Downing Street shakes its response to the crisis following localized flare-ups.

It is understood that ministers are keen to avoid another national lockdown and derail the economic recovery, which could take years.

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