Author: Vanessa Chalmers
This post originally appeared on Health News – The Sun
22 MILLION Brits are living in areas that have had no Covid deaths in the past month.
The figures provide even more proof the virus is in retreat amid a world-leading vaccine programme in the UK.
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And it bodes well for the lifting of lockdown restrictions, after the PM said the road ahead “looks positive”.
As well as swathes of the UK in zero Covid death zones, nearly 40 million people in England live in an area with almost no new Covid cases.
Official data also shows that seven in ten people have antibodies against the virus, meaning they are protected from disease.
The next step to “freedom” will be on May 17, when indoor hospitality can open.
It will come four months after the peak of the second wave, in January, and BBC data analysis reveals how far the UK has come since then.
Findings show that 22 million people in the UK are living in local authorities with zero Covid deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test in April.
By comparison, in a four-week period during January’s peak, fewer than 50,000 people lived in such places.
Some parts of the UK haven’t reported a Covid death in around 60 days; Plymouth, Oxford and Maidstone.
Looking at England alone, four in ten local authorities did not report deaths in April.
And because these are spread out across the country, it suggests all regions are seeing improvements – although there will be hotspots where cases are slightly higher.
In Scotland, just over half of authorities reported zero deaths, and in Northern Ireland it was nine per cent, with a further 55 per cent reporting only one victim.
Data for Wales reveals each of its seven health boards reported at least two deaths, and one reported seven.
Places in the UK with no fatalities over April tended to have lower Covid cases in March, at 150 per 100,000 people on average.
By comparison, areas that did report deaths in April had just under 240 positive cases per 100,000 people in March.
After a year of a growing death toll – 127,502 to April 30, according to Government figures, experts were optimistic about today’s findings.
“This is really good news,” said Dr Mike Tildesley, an expert in the spread on infectious diseases from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) group.
“It’s a really good sign and we’ve seen several parts of the country where prevalence is really, really low. So, I think it gives us confidence.”
But Prof Graham Medley, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggested it was still too early to celebrate.
“We have seen before, when things go wrong they can go wrong quickly,” he warned.
A government spokesperson said: “We urge everyone to keep coming forward to get their vaccine when called. This is the best way to keep each other safe and see our roadmap through in full.”
It comes after data showed the number of Covid-related deaths in England and Wales is at the lowest it has been in six months.
The Office for National Statistics reported on Tuesday that 362 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 16 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
It’s the lowest number since the week ending October 2 – around the time when infections were rising at the start of the second wave.
Around one in 29 (3.5 per cent) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to April 16 mentioned Covid on the death certificate.
Prof Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, The Open University, said deaths involving Covid have halved in just three weeks, from 719 in the week to March 26.
“In people aged 50 and over, it decreased by 51 per cent, so slightly more than halved. In the under 50s the reduction was proportionally smaller, 12 per cent, but the numbers of deaths in the under 50s is much smaller anyway.
“Altogether this emphasises the impact of vaccines on Covid-19 deaths in older people.”
More than 34 million people have now received their first vaccine dose, as nine in ten of all over-45s have now been vaccinated.
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The programme has now extended to anyone over the age of 40 years old, with those in their 30s expected to be invited from May 10 onwards.
Meanwhile, infection levels in all regions of England have either fallen slightly or remain unchanged.
According to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England, Yorkshire and the Humber recorded the highest case rates in the seven days to April 25 – 44.7 cases per 100,000 people.
South-west England had the lowest rate of just 14.2 cases per 100,000.