In the seven days up to July 15, there were 2,757 cases recorded – 539 more than in the previous seven-day period. Data published last week also showed that there was a slight increase in the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19, with a rate of 1.17 per 100,000 population, up from 0.8 per 100,000 in the previous week. ICU admission rates also increased to 0.07 compared to 0.04 in the previous report, the Government website explains.
But while infection rates and hospitalisations have shown signs of increasing, Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Consultant Epidemiologist for Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said they still remain at low levels. He explained: “Covid-19 cases and hospital admission rates remain at low levels, though have risen very slightly in the past 2 weeks. We will continue to monitor these rates closely.
“The NHS will be in contact in autumn 2023 when the seasonal vaccine is available for those who are eligible due to health conditions or age. Remember that the virus can cause serious illness, especially for those who are older or immunosuppressed, so we urge everyone who is offered to take up the vaccine when offered.”
Usually, respiratory viruses such as flu and RSV start spreading in the autumn and peak in the winter. But Covid, a newer virus that has mutated a lot since emerging a few years ago, has also had summer surges since the pandemic began. The UK is not the only country that has seen an increase in the number of Covid infections. Cases have also gone up in the US, where doctors are watching the current trends closely.
Professor Stephen Griffin, co-chair of Independent SAGE, said there are several factors to consider when questioning what has influenced the increase in cases.
He told The Mirror: “It is likely, based on data from several different sources, including people going into hospital, that we are experiencing another wave of SARS2 infections – this will be the third wave of 2023.
“The two main drivers of waves are changes in the virus that allow it to avoid the antibodies we make, combined with the waning of that immunity as more time passes since our last vaccine or, sadly, infection.
“Behaviour, especially large gatherings indoors such as schools, universities, shops and workplaces has an influence as well.”
He added: “This wave certainly seems to be rising less quickly than previously, plus cases had dropped to a much lower level than following previous waves. “
Prof Griffin, from the University of Leeds, stressed that the level of testing in the UK has “fallen dramatically.”