Gillian Keegan offered optimism over the progress against the virus as an expert said the ‘vaccine effect has kicked in’
MP Gillian Keegan: “it looks very promising” that UK has passed third covid peak
The UK could now be past the peak of the third coronavirus wave, a Tory minister has said.
Skills Minister Gillian Keegan said the situation looks “very, very promising” as an explosion of cases after Freedom Day anticipated by some experts has so far failed to materialise.
Remaining lockdown restrictions were lifted on July 19, with ministers braced to see if infections would rocket as people returned to greater normality.
But coronavirus infections have remained lower than the gloomier predictions, with 21,952 cases as of 9am on Monday – the lowest level in five weeks.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid had warned in July that infections could surge to 100,000 per day.
However the daily number of Covid tests carried out dropped to its lowest level since early July on Monday.
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Official figures show that 670,913 tests were done in the last 24 hours – the lowest level since July 3, when 659,338 tests were taken.
Lower testing numbers have prompted fears that fewer people are coming forward to avoid having to self-isolate.
Asked if the peak of the third wave had passed, Ms Keegan told LBC: “We all look at the data with hope but we have seen how this virus can turn at several points.
“Obviously we have got many people double vaccinated. The more people we get double vaccinated, which is why we have got this August 16 date to say, ‘Everybody get vaccinated.’ Of course that gives young people the chance to get double vaccinated as well.
“It looks very, very promising.”
Former ONS health statistics boss Jamie Jenkins also offered hope that the nation could be “over the edge” of the third wave – and death rates could also begin to come down.
He said: “(Cases) in England and Wales have been coming down since July 19, the cases have been falling for a couple of weeks there, then you get that time-lag effect when cases start coming down you get, around five or six days later, you start seeing hospital admissions come down, and then you start seeing deaths come down.
“I think looking at the data, we normally see deaths peaking around 14 days after cases come down, I think we might start being over the hill now when it comes to deaths.”
Mr Jenkins added: “We probably are over the edge of the wave at the moment but let’s have a bit of caution as we go into the autumn period.”
He said that hospital admissions were around 80% lower than what they would have been in the past and deaths were 90% lower, adding: “The vaccine effect has kicked in as well – if you look at the same number of cases to what we had in the winter, it would have been 800 deaths rather than 65-70.”