ADDS NEWS ON VACCINES REDUCING HOSPITALIZATIONS AMONG ELDERLY
By Muhammad Mussa and Karim El-Bar
LONDON (AA) - The number of deaths and infections caused by the novel coronavirus continues to fall across the UK, despite rising concerns over the arrival of the Brazilian variant in the country.
On Monday, 5,455 people tested positive for the virus, and between Feb. 23 and March 1, some 55,859 people were diagnosed with the disease, down 28.7% from the previous seven days.
A total of 104 deaths were reported within 28 days of testing positive for the virus on Friday. Between Feb. 23 and March 1, some 2,196 people succumbed to the virus, a drop of 34.7% in comparison to the previous week.
The total number of people in the country who have tested positive for the virus stands at 4.18 million, while 135,613 have died due to the pandemic.
By the end of Feb. 28, nearly 20.3 million people received their first dose of the vaccine, with 815,816 receiving the second dose.
The number of people being tested continues to rise, with 526,679 tests being reported on Sunday, up 18%.
Hospitalizations are also falling, with 1,112 people admitted on Feb. 3. On Feb. 17-23, 8,460 people were admitted to hospital after contracting COVID-19, down 22% from the previous week.
On Monday, six cases of the Brazilian P1 variant were detected in the UK -- three in England and three in Scotland. The government is currently trying to identify one individual who has been affected with this variant and appears to not have registered their full details with the National Health Service.
The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) has designated the P1 mutation as a “variant of concern,” as it is highly transmissible and capable of evading antibodies produced by the vaccine.
- Reducing elderly hospitalizations
Separately, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a press briefing Monday that a single shot of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “works against severe infection among the over-70s, with a more than 80% reduction in hospitalizations.”
Expanding on the “extremely good news,” he added: “In fact, the detailed data show that the protection that you get from catching COVID 35 days after a first jab is even slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer, albeit both results are clearly very strong.”
“This shows, in the real world, across the UK right now that the vaccine is helping both to protect the NHS and to save lives.”
Jonathan Van-Tam, one of England's deputy chief medical officers, also told reporters that the new data “gives us those first glimpses of how, if we are patient, and we give this vaccine program time to have its full effect, it is going to hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few months.”