Patients wait after receiving their Covid-19 puffs on February 11 at a vaccination center in Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
Covid-19 infections in England have fallen by more than two-thirds in the last few weeks, according to initial results of a survey on the prevalence in the community.
The interim results from the ninth report by REACT-1, a study on Covid-19 infections in England, were published by Imperial College London on Thursday.
Between February 4 and February 13, more than 85,400 volunteers were throat and nasal swab tested in England to assess levels of infection in the general population.
The results show that the national prevalence has fallen by two thirds – from 1.57% to 0.51% or 51 per 10,000 infected people. This is a significant decrease in infections compared to the last report from Jan. 6-22. England launched its third national lockdown on the pandemic in January. 6th
“These encouraging results show that lockdown measures are effective in reducing infections. It is comforting that the number of infections has decreased in all age groups and in most regions of the country, “Paul Elliott, program director at Imperial, said in a statement.
The decline in prevalence has been greater in some regions, particularly London, where it has fallen from 2.83% to 0.54% since the last report.
“In London, the South East and the West Midlands, the prevalence fell by around 80%, although the decreases were smaller in the northern regions,” the Imperial report said.
Prevalence declined significantly across all age groups, with the highest prevalence in 18-24 year olds at 0.89% and those between 5 and 12 years old at 0.86%, the report adds. The report concludes that while the prevalence of coronavirus in the general population in England has “declined sharply” five to six weeks after the lockdown, it is still high – “at a level similar to late September 2020”.
There are also still more people being hospitalized with Covid-19 than at the height of the first wave in April 2020.
The UK started its mass vaccination campaign in December, offering a vaccine to almost everyone over 70 in January and February. More than 15 million people have now received a first dose.
“The decline in prevalence was similar in people 65 and over compared to other age groups, suggesting that if vaccines are effective at reducing both transmission and disease, this effect is not yet a major driver of prevalence trends. Therefore, the observed falls described here are most likely due to lower social interactions during lockdown, ”the report said.
“We do not yet know whether a vaccination prevents someone from passing the virus on to others,” added the UK Ministry of Health.
However, on Tuesday the UK National Statistics Office reported that nearly 41% of people over 80 in England “most likely because of the high vaccination rates in this group” tested positive for antibodies.