UK government in spotlight as Covid cases rise again – .

UK government in spotlight as Covid cases rise again – .

London (AFP)

Britain has repeatedly touted its mass vaccination program against Covid-19, hailing its early approval of vaccines as a key part of the long struggle to return to normal life.

But infection rates remain stubbornly high, contrasting sharply with its European neighbors and prompting new questions from the government.

For two weeks, the number of new cases hovered between 35,000 and 40,000 per day, and approached 50,000 on Monday – the highest since the July peak of the “Delta” variant epidemic.

The daily death toll has often exceeded 100 since the summer, adding to a global toll of more than 138,000, just behind Russia in Europe.

“Unfortunately, at the moment the UK has a higher level of Covid-19 than most other comparable countries, it shows not only in positive tests but in hospitalizations and deaths,” said Jim Naismith , professor of structural biology at the University of Oxford.

Members of the Covid-19 Bereved Families for Justice group pose for a photo outside 10 Downing Street DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS AFP

Across the Channel, France records some 4,000 cases per day and Germany 10,000. Deaths are approximately 30 and 60 per day, respectively.

There are questions about the chasm of numbers, even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who survived an intensive care hospital stay with Covid – seems unfazed.

Scientists have previously expressed concern that the underlying high number of cases could overload the state-run National Health Service, which is often under pressure in the fall and winter with respiratory infections.

“We always knew the coming months could be tough,” Johnson’s official spokesperson said on Monday.

“Obviously, different countries are potentially at different stages of their immunization programs and have different measures in place, so it’s difficult to compare and contrast,” he said.

“But it’s important to find the right balance between protecting lives and livelihoods. “

– School-aged children –

Simon Clarke, associate professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, said the rate of infections in older school-aged children “is clearly the driving force behind this sustained tide of new infections.”

Vaccination rates are low among British schoolchildren and masks are no longer mandatory, although the government said earlier this month that they could be reintroduced if cases continue to rise.

While healthy children are generally able to fight off the disease, the growing number of cases “may be of concern to parents, grandparents with family responsibilities, and teachers, some of whom may not be vaccinated or not. have health issues that make them vulnerable, ”Clarke said.

Frontline healthcare and social workers, the elderly and the clinically vulnerable in Britain began to receive a booster vaccine in September Paul ELLIS AFP

A closer look at the statistics shows that Britain performs twice as many tests as France and six times as many as Germany.

It also shows that there are currently more people in intensive care units with Covid in France and Germany than in Britain, although the overall number of hospitalizations is comparable in Britain and France to about 7,000.

But while France’s daily hospitalization rate has fallen in recent weeks to around 150 admissions, Britain’s has not fallen below 500 since the summer and has now risen to more than 900.

Infection rates in France, Germany and the Netherlands have also increased in recent days.

Britain removed Covid restrictions in July, ending social distancing and mask mandates – although many transport operators still need them.

Proof of vaccination to visit crowded spaces such as restaurants, theaters and nightclubs is also not mandatory in England, and has only just been introduced in Wales and Scotland, which have established their own health policy.

– Reduction measures –

Britain mainly used the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was found to be less effective in preventing Delta variant infection than mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mainly used in Europe.

The country also started its vaccination program earlier, raising questions as to whether immunity is now waning, similar to Israel’s experience.

Only 41 percent of those vaccinated have received a booster so far, raising further questions about the effectiveness of the follow-up program.

Attitudes towards wearing a mask also differ: according to a YouGov poll, around 15% of Britons say they never wear a mask in public. In Europe it was around five percent.

The survey also indicated that many more Britons return to public transport or large gatherings than in mainland Europe.

This sparked criticism that the government has become too lax on regulation, which has led to complacency.

Cases per day and trend over the previous two weeks in European countries through October 12
Cases per day and trend over the previous two weeks in European countries through October 12 AFP

Johnson, who wants to revive the country’s economy, is reluctant to reimpose restrictions, including lockdowns.

But Naismith said: “Some immediate mitigation measures (masking, ventilation) would seem desirable… With winter approaching, it might be interesting to take stock of where we are. “


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