Health

Britain’s daily Covid deaths quadruple in a week to 209

Britain’s daily Covid deaths more than quadrupled in a week today, official figures show — but the rise is likely due to a recording lag from the bank holiday last week.

Health chiefs have registered another 209 Covid fatalities in the past 24 hours, compared to just 50 recorded last Tuesday.

Last week’s number was unusually low and came a day after bank holiday Monday, with death figures typically lower on and around public holidays. For comparison, on the previous two Tuesdays there were 174 and 170 deaths.

Another 37,489 people tested positive for Covid in the past 24 hours, up 16 per cent in a week. The Department of Health also revealed that 1,000 people were hospitalised with the virus across the UK on September 1.

It marked the second time in a week there were four-figure admissions in a single 24-hour period, after 1,019 people were also hospitalised with the virus on August 25.

The DOH update — which often includes backlogged hospital data due to the way it’s recorded — showed there were a further 988 admissions on September 2 and 905 on September 3, which were both week-on-week rises.  

It comes as Downing Street today admitted an October ‘firebreak’ lockdown would only be used as a last resort if the NHS is pushed to the brink in the coming weeks.  

Britain's daily Covid deaths quadruple in a week to 209

Britain's daily Covid deaths quadruple in a week to 209

Britain's daily Covid deaths quadruple in a week to 209

Boris Johnson was heavily criticised last autumn for not imposing a firebreaker in October when cases were on the rise. But his spokesman said today that the vaccines had given the UK ‘significant defences’ which the country did not have this time last year.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said today that parents will ‘always’ be asked for consent before their children receive the Covid vaccine, as he sought to reassure families amid reports children as young as 12 would be able to overrule their parents as part of a secondary-school jabs roll out.

Parents’ consent WILL ‘always be sought’ before vaccinating kids, schools minister promises 

Parents will ‘always’ be asked for consent before their children receive the Covid vaccine, the schools minister has said.

Nick Gibb sought to reassure families amid reports that children as young as 12 will be able to overrule their parents as part of a secondary-school jabs rollout. 

Professor Chris Whitty and the other chief medical officers are currently weighing up whether to offer jabs to 12 to 15-year-olds, after the Government’s vaccine advisers said the vaccines only offered a marginal benefit to their health.

Professor Whitty — who said over summer he would be in favour of jabbing kids to prevent more school closures — is expected to OK the move on Friday.  

Mr Gibb told the Education Select Committee: ‘The consent from parents will always be sought before the child is vaccinated in the school.

‘(But) in some circumstances, and it is rare, children can consent themselves if they are competent to do so. The people administering vaccines in schools are aware of these sensitive issues.’

Ministers have made no secret of the fact they want to inoculate the age group, with the NHS ordered to have plans ready to roll out the doses from last week.

If approved, children are expected to be offered either the Pfizer or Moderena jabs in schools. 

Scientists are divided over whether 12 to 15-year-olds should get the Covid vaccine, with some SAGE members backing the move yesterday arguing it would help to head off a surge in infections later this winter. 

But others have argued it would be ethically dubious to inoculate the age group when millions of people in poorer countries are still waiting to be vaccinated. 

Professor Chris Whitty and the other chief medical officers are currently weighing up whether to offer jabs to 12 to 15-year-olds, after the Government’s vaccine advisers said the vaccines only offered a marginal benefit to their health. Professor Whitty — who said over summer he would be in favour of jabbing kids to prevent more school closures — is expected to OK the move on Friday. 

The PM’s spokesman said: ‘It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.

‘We have retained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios, but these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.’

He added: ‘I think we’ve been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS.

‘But under the previous occasions when that action has been required, we have been without the significant defences that our vaccination programme provides us – we’re now in a much different phase.’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted in a round of interviews this morning that he had not ‘seen any plans’ for the measure.

He stressed that his ‘hope’ is that booster shots — which vaccine advisers are yet to recommend — can prevent the Government having to shut down the country again.

Officials are confident that the jabs are doing their job, which makes a full lockdown very unlikely. Covid deaths are 10 times lower now than in January and doctors say Covid hospital patients are coming in with more mild illness.

Closing schools during the summer holidays helped avoid a major rise in cases after the lifting of lockdown restrictions in July, it is believed, while a return of schools in Scotland last month seems to have brought about a rise in infections.

An anonymous SAGE source was quoted in the i newspaper last night saying a ‘precautionary break’ was part of ‘contingency plans’.

The source said ‘a firebreak lockdown is by no means out of the question’, and that the school half-term could be stretched to two weeks instead of one.

They said: ‘It would be sensible to have contingency plans, and if a lockdown is required, to time it so that it has minimal economic and societal impact.’

They added: ‘We are going to be at a peak, albeit an extended peak, quite soon, so it’s not really the same situation as last year, when failure to reduce prevalence would have resulted in collapse of NHS and people dying in car parks.

‘Hospitals might be overflowing before deaths reach the same level. Acting early will prevent this level.’

Official data showed today that Covid deaths in England and Wales have climbed to their highest level in five months.

The Office for National Statistics said there were 668 people who had Covid mentioned on their death certificate in the week ending August 27, up from 570 in the previous seven days

The Office for National Statistics said there were 668 people who had Covid mentioned on their death certificate in the week ending August 27, up from 570 in the previous seven days

Downing Street today denied claims that ministers were making plans for an October 'firebreak' lockdown should cases continue to spiral. An un-named SAGE scientist had made the claims to the i newspaper, and said that half-term could be extended to two weeks. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he had no knowledge of the plans.

It came before schools minister Nick Gibb said parental consent would 'always' be sought before children were vaccinated against Covid

Downing Street today denied claims that ministers were making plans for an October ‘firebreak’ lockdown should cases continue to spiral. An un-named SAGE scientist had made the claims to the i newspaper, and said that half-term could be extended to two weeks. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi (left) said he had no knowledge of the plans. It came before schools minister Nick Gibb (right) said parental consent would ‘always’ be sought before children were vaccinated against Covid

The Office for National Statistics weekly report said 668 people had Covid mentioned on their death certificates in the week ending August 27.

This is the highest weekly total since the week to March 26 — when the second wave was dying down — when there were 719 deaths involving the virus.

PHE says it has spotted 53 cases of ‘Mu’ Covid variant in the UK which is feared to be better at evading vaccines 

Britain's daily Covid deaths quadruple in a week to 209

More than 50 Britons have been infected with the ‘Mu’ Covid variant which experts fear blunts the effect of vaccines and is already spreading in all but one US state.

Public Health England said it had spotted 53 cases of the mutant strain — which emerged in Colombia — and that it was first detected in Britain in May.

Scientists believe that while Mu is more transmissible than the original virus, it does not appear to be infectious enough to outcompete the Delta variant.

Delta was first detected in Britain in late March and had become dominant by May, for comparison.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School, said he believed Delta represented ‘peak infectiousness’ for Covid and would be ‘very, very surprised’ if Mu or any other strain was even more transmissible.

But he warned Mu’s vaccine-resistance may make it a future threat, telling MailOnline: ‘We may have reached peak infectiousness with the Delta variant and what we have not reached, of course, is peak immune avoidance.’

No-one in the UK had died from Mu by the most recent count on August 30, but five people were admitted to hospital with it. It’s unclear how many of these were vaccinated.

PHE sources told MailOnline today they were ‘not concerned’ about the mutant virus, although its rapid spread in the US has led to growing concerns globally.

Mu has already been reported in every state except Nebraska, with Florida and California recording the highest numbers at 384 cases each. In total about 1,750 Americans have been infected with the virus, according to data.

The variant was responsible for Colombia’s deadly third infection wave between April and June, when at the peak 700 Colombians were dying per day. But the outbreak has since subsided.

PHE has admitted the strain, also known as B.1.621, has some ability to evade jabs but the agency has taken confidence from the fact it is not rapidly growing.

A source said: ‘This is not really one we are hugely concerned about at this point in time.

‘We would want to see t growing in the real world before classifying it as a ‘variant of concern’, and that is not really happening at the moment.’

Professor Robin Shattock, who leads the Imperial College London vaccine programme, said this morning it was ‘concerning’ that some Britons feel they are no longer at risk from Covid and have stopped taking steps to protect others.

He told Times Radio that the need to wear masks in crowded spaces and public transport was ‘still very relevant’ and urged Britons to still be cautious. 

He also called for the elderly and vulnerable to be offered booster Covid vaccines next winter.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is preparing to make a decision on booster jabs for the winter, with an announcement expected this week.

It came as Mr Gibb said that parental consent would ‘always’ be sought before children are given the vaccine, in an attempt to reassure families amid reports that children as young as 12 could overrule their parents to get jabs.

He told the Education Select Committee: ‘The consent from parents will always be sought before the child is vaccinated in the school.

‘(But) in some circumstances, and it is rare, children can consent themselves if they are competent to do so. The people administering vaccines in schools are aware of these sensitive issues.’

He added that the vaccines would be rolled out in schools if approved, telling MPs: ‘Yes that is the intention, that the School Age Immunisation Service will deliver these vaccinations through the schools.

‘It is the swiftest and most efficient way of delivering the vaccination programme, as with other vaccination programmes for that age group.’

If approved, children are expected to be offered either the Pfizer or Moderena jabs in schools. 

Scientists are divided over whether 12 to 15-year-olds should get the Covid vaccine, with some SAGE members backing the move yesterday arguing it would help to head off a surge in infections later this winter. 

But others have argued it would be ethically dubious to inoculate the age group when millions of people in poorer countries are still waiting to be vaccinated. 

His comments add to confusion over whether children will be able to overrule their parents to get the vaccine. 

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday that 12 to 15-year-olds would be able to get the jab against their parents wishes.

He said: ‘What you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do.’

Mr Zahawi added that if jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds was recommended by Britain’s medical officers it was ‘absolutely’ the right thing to do.

And Dr David Strain, a British Medical Association chief, also called for them to be able to overrule their parents to get the jab.

Dr Strain, who is also clinical lead for Covid services at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, told LBC Radio: ‘A lot of children aged 12 have enough maturity in order to make a decision themselves, although it’s not the same for every child.

‘Doctors and nurses are trained to be able to evaluate them and deem them competent.’

But experts warn clinicians may be ‘reluctant’ to give children jabs without parental consent because the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has not recommended them for the age group.

The associate professor of family law at Oxford University, Lucinda Ferguson, told The Telegraph yesterday: ‘In my view the clinician may well be reluctant to accept that because alongside that, you have now got the JCVI saying that they don’t consider it to be essentially in the medical best interests of children more generally.

She added: ‘At least at this stage wold be reluctant to accept that that consent (from a child) is good enough because of course if you treat a child without informed consent, either from them, or from a parent with parental responsibility, it is technically battery and that would be what would be concerning the clinician.’

‘Professor Lockdown’ told a live conference yesterday that a decision from Professor Whitty and the other chief medical officers was expected by Friday.

Several SAGE members have already said they are in favour of vaccinating the age group to keep infections at bay in schools.

Professor John Edmunds, who is an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that children should have been jabbed over the summer holidays.

He told The Times: ‘Even if we started (vaccinating all teenagers) immediately it’s not going to have much of an impact on the epidemiology in the next couple of months because they will only get a single dose and one dose isn’t terribly effective at preventing infection with the Delta variant.

‘The biggest lever we could have pressed was to have vaccinated schoolchildren but we should have done it before they went back to school.

‘In the last six weeks we haven’t really taken any action to prevent things taking off in the autumn, and that’s a shame.’ 

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