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Covid UK: Bank holiday testing dip sends daily cases surging 56% today though weekly deaths fell 6%

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Daily coronavirus infections across the UK surged 56 per cent in a week today, official figures show — but the rise is due to a dip in testing last Monday.

The Department of Health’s daily update showed there were 41,192 new cases in the past 24 hours compared to just 26,476 on Bank Holiday Monday.

There were 670,000 tests carried out on that day compared to more than a million today, with the numbers typically lower during public holidays.

The latest cases mean more than 7million people have officially been infected with Covid in Britain, although millions more are thought to have gone untested. 

Another 45 Covid deaths were also registered today marking a 6 per cent fall compared to last week but this may also have been affected by the bank holiday.

It comes as Professor Chris Whitty and his fellow chief medical officers in the devolved nations prepare to deliver a decision on vaccinating children this week.

The Government’s vaccine advisory panel said on Friday that it would not recommend routinely vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds because Covid poses such a low threat to their health.

It has left the decision with the CMOs who will weigh up whether jabbing kids will have broader benefits to society, such as keeping schools open during winter. 

MailOnline understands a decision is expected no later than Friday.

‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said today he believed Britain will press ahead with plans to vaccinate children to keep infections in schools manageable.

The epidemiologist and SAGE adviser — whose modelling spooked ministers into the initial lockdown in March — said he expects Professor Chris Whitty and the other chief medical officers to approve the move.

The Government has made no secret of the fact it wants to immunise secondary school-aged children after seeing cases spiral in Scotland when schools returned from the summer holidays last month.

Scotland’s Covid cases are already ‘plateauing’ three weeks after secondary school surge in hope for rest of UK

Scotland’s Covid cases may already be plateauing barely a fortnight after the country’s schools returned from the summer holidays, ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson has said.

Cases more than doubled on the back of Scottish classes returning from the summer break on August 18 and there were fears the rest of the UK would be hit with a similar surge with millions of pupils heading back today.

But latest data from the UK Government’s Covid dashboard suggests that while case numbers are still very high in Scotland, they no longer appear to be growing.

The number of people testing positive nationally appears to have peaked at a record 7,113 on August 29, after surging from around 2,500 in the week schools went back.

But the seven-day average for infections — which rose to 6,000 on August 30 — is now hovering just below this level, in a sign the country’s outbreak may no longer be growing. Today Scotland recorded 7,065 cases.

Professor Ferguson — a SAGE adviser whose predictions of thousands of deaths spooked ministers into the first lockdown — said the data suggested ‘the hint of a plateau’ in infections.

It is an encouraging sign for the rest of the UK that suggests that even if other countries are hit hard with a big bang in cases over the first couple of weeks after schools return it will not be long lasting.

Professor Ferguson from Imperial College London said today: ‘On balance, I think we will probably move to vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds. 

‘The question becomes even finer going into younger age groups, but focusing on teenage secondary school children I think we will move in that direction.’

He added: ‘It would not surprise me if the chief medical officers… would decide to go forward with vaccination (of 12 to 15-year-olds).’

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises the Government on who should receive vaccines.

Scientists are divided over whether 12 to 15-year-olds should get the Covid vaccine, with some SAGE members backing the move yesterday arguing it would help to head off a surge in infections later this winter. 

But experts admit routinely jabbing them might only bring cases down by 20 per cent.

Others have argued it would be ethically dubious to inoculate the age group when millions of people in poorer countries are still waiting to be vaccinated. 

Professor Whitty is under mounting political pressure to approve jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds in England.

Downing Street fears that while daily cases never hit the prediction of 100,000 cases a day over the summer, they could spiral to these levels during the winter months if kids aren’t given vaccines. 

This would leave the country fighting a new Covid wave at the same time as a flu outbreak, putting further pressure on the NHS. 

But in its ruling on Friday, the JCVI said giving Covid vaccines to children would only have ‘marginal’ benefits to their health.

It said that the benefits did not yet outweigh the risk of potential side effects – namely heart inflammation. 

Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the JCVI, this morning acknowledged that the group was in the ‘uncomfortable’ position of disagreeing with the Government. 

He told Good Morning Britain: ‘It is very finely balanced. It’s marginally in favour, actually if you look at all the figures — and we have published those — in favour of vaccination.

‘But I do understand it from a parental viewpoint and I understand it from a teenager’s viewpoint.

‘This is not an easy decision. And, to a certain extent, by us coming out and saying no, if the Government say yes that does create a lot of uncomfortableness, and I fully understand that.’

He said they want to provide the data for everyone to look at and, should the chief medical officers decide healthy children in this age group should be offered a jab, they are ‘giving choice’.

Data for the country showed its cases hit their peak on August 29 when 7,113 were recorded. But since then they have hovered at around 6,000 a day in a sure sign the country's outbreak may no longer be growing

Data for the country showed its cases hit their peak on August 29 when 7,113 were recorded. But since then they have hovered at around 6,000 a day in a sure sign the country’s outbreak may no longer be growing

The above is a snip of Covid cases in Scotland since June by date recorded. It shows that the seven-day average for cases (blue line) now appears to have started to level off, in a sure sign the country's outbreak is no longer growing.

The above is a snip of Covid cases in Scotland since June by date recorded. It shows that the seven-day average for cases (blue line) now appears to have started to level off, in a sure sign the country’s outbreak is no longer growing.

He added: ‘It is up to then parents and teenagers to decide whether they go ahead or not. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this.’

Mr Zahawi told Times Radio yesterday that children would be able to overrule their parents to get the vaccine, should the jab be recommended for the age group. 

He said: ‘What you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do.’

Mr Zahawi added that if jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds was recommended by Britain’s medical officers it was ‘absolutely’ the right thing to do.

He said that parents would be asked for consent if jabs were approved for the age group.

Medics have warned, however, that clinicians will be ‘reluctant’ to give jabs to children without their parents’ consent.

The associate professor of family law at Oxford University, Lucinda Ferguson, told The Telegraph: ‘In my view the clinician may well be reluctant to accept that because alongside that, you have now got the JCVI saying that they don’t consider it to be essentially in the medical best interests of children more generally.

She added: ‘At least at this stage wold be reluctant to accept that that consent (from a child) is good enough because of course if you treat a child without informed consent, either from them, or from a parent with parental responsibility, it is technically battery and that would be what would be concerning the clinician.’

Several SAGE members have already said they are in favour of vaccinating the age group to head off a surge in cases later this year. 

Professor John Edmunds, who sits on the powerful committee, said on Saturday: ‘In the UK now it’s difficult to say how many children have not been infected but it is probably around half of them.

‘That’s a long way to go if we allow the infection just to run through the population, that’s a lot of children who will be infected that will be a lot of disruption to schools in the coming months.’

SAGE adviser Professor Peter Openshaw also backed vaccinating the age group yesterday to head off a surge in infections. 

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We do know the virus is circulating very widely amongst this age group, and that if we’re going to be able to get the rates down and also prevent further surges of infection perhaps later in the winter, then this is the group that needs to become immune.

‘And the best way to become immune is through vaccination, and there’s never been as much information as this in the past.’ 

He added: ‘To my mind, the public health benefit is very, very important, and we have to take the wider view that unless we do get infection rates down amongst this particular part of the population, it will be very, very hard to prevent further large recurrences (of Covid).’

England's Covid cases have plateaued over the last month ahead of schools returning, data shows. The country is currently recording around 26,000 new infections every day on average (pictured). Experts fear this will surge in the coming days, however, amid the return of schools

England’s Covid cases have plateaued over the last month ahead of schools returning, data shows. The country is currently recording around 26,000 new infections every day on average (pictured). Experts fear this will surge in the coming days, however, amid the return of schools

A quarter of travellers from amber list countries broke Covid rules and didn’t take a PCR test when they arrived in UK, official survey finds 

A quarter of Britons arriving from amber-listed countries failed to follow isolation and testing rules, according to official estimates.

Some 23 per cent of amber arrivals in England in July either avoided staying at home when they were supposed to, or did not take required Covid tests on arrival.

There are no Government follow-ups to check whether UK arrivals completed a mandatory PCR Covid test within 48 hours of arriving in the country. 

They are provided by private companies, with some charging more than £100 per test.

But those coming into the UK must provide proof they purchased a test on the passenger locator forms required to get into the UK. 

The Office for National Statistics found compliance with the rules was lowest among those aged 18 to 34-years-old and highest among those who had not been jabbed. 

It surveyed 848 adults arriving in England from amber territories between July 12 and 17.

Professor Ferguson added that Scotland’s Covid cases may already be plateauing barely a fortnight after the country’s schools returned from the summer holidays.

Cases more than doubled on the back of Scottish classes returning from the summer break on August 18 and there were fears the rest of the UK would be hit with a similar surge with millions of pupils heading back today.  

But latest data from the UK Government’s Covid dashboard suggests that while case numbers are still very high in Scotland, they no longer appear to be growing.  

The number of people testing positive nationally appears to have peaked at a record 7,113 on August 29, after surging from around 2,500 in the week schools went back. 

But the seven-day average for infections — which rose to 6,000 on August 30 — is now hovering just below this level, in a sign the country’s outbreak may no longer be growing. Today Scotland recorded 7,065 cases.

Professor Ferguson said the data suggested ‘the hint of a plateau’ in infections.

It is an encouraging sign for the rest of the UK that suggests that even if other countries are hit hard with a big bang in cases over the first couple of weeks after schools return it will not be long lasting.

Professor Ferguson, warned England had some ‘difficult weeks ahead’, however, because of the surge in cases predicted to hit over the winter months when the NHS is under the greatest pressure. 

England has followed Scotland’s Covid trajectory this summer with cases spiralling in both countries following their national team’s success in the Euros.

As children head back to the classroom in England infections are 13 times higher than they were last September, when the end of the summer holidays then sparked the second wave.

It comes amid calls for 12 to 15-year-olds to be offered the Covid vaccine, with some SAGE advisers arguing that it would help to head off a surge in infections later this winter. 

But others have argued it would be ethically dubious to inoculate the age group when millions of people in poorer countries are still waiting to be vaccinated. 

Should we jab 12-year-olds? Experts say it’s ‘unethical’ to vaccinate children to protect adults from Covid and claim kids may get ‘better immunity’ if they catch virus naturally – but others warn of school closures and lockdowns

Scientists are at war over whether the UK should be routinely vaccinating children.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — an independent body which advises the UK Government on the Covid jab roll-out —  resisted growing pressure to OK the move despite the US, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, Norway and the Netherlands all pressing ahead with the plans. 

The JCVI claimed the virus posed such a low risk to 12 to 15-year-olds that the benefit of vaccination to their health would be marginal. 

It did however recommend the jabs for 200,000 more children with chronic heart, kidney, lung and neurological conditions in that age group. A total of 350,000 children aged 12 to 15 are now eligible for the vaccine.

But experts pushing back against the plans argud that it would be ‘ethically dubious’ to jab children solely to protect adults, because Covid itself poses such a tiny risk to youngsters.

Others believe it is better for children to catch Covid and recover to develop natural immunity than to be reliant on protection from vaccines, which studies suggest wanes in months.

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: ‘It is one thing to say have a vaccine to protect your health, but quite another thing to persuade you to have a vaccine to protect my health. One is entirely ethical and the other is dubious.’

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, told MailOnline today that children should be vaccinated 'with their parents' consent' because the benefits outweighed the risk of side-effects. He pointed to other countries where the jab has been rolled out to the age group with no safety issues.

SAGE adviser Professor Calum Semple has said children should be inoculated in order to avoid further disruption to their education

Dr Simon Clarke (left), a microbiologist at Reading University, told MailOnline today that children should be vaccinated ‘with their parents’ consent’ because the benefits outweighed the risk of side-effects. He pointed to other countries where the jab has been rolled out to the age group with no safety issues. SAGE adviser Professor Calum Semple has said children should be inoculated in order to avoid further disruption to their education

And Professor David Livermore, a medical microbiologist at the same university, said natural infection could be a ‘a better first step in the lifelong co-existence’ with the virus than rolling out the jabs.

But the move to jab healthy kids for Covid has been backed by several experts who warn that letting the virus rip through schools could result in more disruptions to education and force lockdown restrictions to be rolled back.

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, told MailOnline today that he would feel comfortable vaccinating children so long as their parents consented. 

He said the wider benefits to keeping schools open and infection rates low outweighed any small risks of side effects from the jabs.  

And in a letter written to the Education Secretary today, a group of scientists said the wider effects curbs would have on children’s learning, health and wellbeing meant it was ‘reckless’ to send secondary children to classes unvaccinated. 

Children have only a small risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid and a vanishingly small chance of death, while the jabs are associated with rare cases of myocarditis in young people.

The JCVI said that youngsters under 16 with severe conditions have a one in 10,000 chance of falling seriously ill with Covid compared to the one in 500,000 risk for healthy children.

It said that a very rare heart complication associated with the jabs meant the benefits of vaccination ‘only marginally’ outweighed the risks in healthy under-16s, but not enough to recommend a mass rollout. 

Professor Hunter said today he was against vaccinating children and had faith in the JCVI comes to come to the correct decision.

He told MailOnline: ‘The issue around whether we should be vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds is whether there is enough vaccine to go around people who are vulnerable worldwide.’ 

Professor Hunter added that as the direct benefit of vaccines to children was small because Covid is a mild illness for the overwhelming majority of them.

He said he would prefer to see the doses shipped to developing nations which are struggling to get first doses to vulnerable people.

Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, said it is 'plausible' that it would be be better for children to catch Covid and recover to develop natural immunity rather than be reliant on vaccines

Professor Devi Sridhar, a global public health expert at Edinburgh University, said 12 to 15-year-olds should be offered the vaccine 'urgently' with the Delta variant set to 'fly through schools'

Scientists were at war over vaccinating children against Covid today. Professor David Livermore (left) says it is ‘plausible’ that immunity from natural infection could last longer for children but Professor Devi Sridhar (right) says the virus could rip through the country again 

And he raised doubts about whether it was ethical to vaccinate children against a mild disease in the first place. 

‘If we are going to be vaccinating these children it has got to be in their interest, not in ours,’ he said.

‘It is one thing to say have a vaccine to protect your health, but quite another thing to persuade you to have a vaccine to protect my health. One is entirely ethical and the other is dubious.’

Professor David Livermore, a medical microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, said last week that the world will need to live with Covid for years if not decades — so having a generation of children with natural immunity would help prevent cases spiralling later down the line. 

He said natural infection could be a ‘a better first step in the lifelong co-existence’ with the virus than rolling out the jabs.

He added: ‘There is no direct reason to vaccinate children and adolescents against Covid. They are extremely unlikely to suffer severe disease if infected.

‘Rare but serious side effects have been associated with the vaccines, including blood clots and myocarditis. For older adults and the vulnerable, these are small hazards compared with those from Covid infection, and being vaccinated is obviously prudent. 

‘But for children the risk/benefit ratio is far less clear, and may reverse. The JCVI initially were against vaccinating children on this logic and have provided no clear reason for a change of view.

‘Taking these three points together I can see no good reason to vaccinate under-18s, let alone 12-year-olds.’

And Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, told MailOnline vaccinating children would ‘use up’ Britain’s supply of jabs designated for boosters for the clinically vulnerable this winter. 

Professor Spector said while vaccinating would reduce cases ‘in an ideal world’, in the immediate term it could take up supply intended for booster shots to older, more vulnerable people who’s own immunity from vaccines given earlier in the year may be on the wane.

He added: ‘With vaccinating children you are going to reduce numbers of infections, but if you do that that means you use up your boosters and so you risk more deaths and hospitalisations at the other end of the spectrum.

‘In the ideal world I would be in favour of doing both [booster shots for the elderly and vaccines for over-12s] but I definitely think we should be giving boosters to kids that have had natural infections.’ 

But an equal number of scientists say that vaccinating children would have indirect benefits to them, such as keeping them in education and avoiding future lockdowns which took a toll on young people’s mental health. 

A group of 12 scientists on Independent SAGE – a group which has attacked the Government for not being strict enough in controlling the virus – wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today to call for children to receive the vaccine for exactly that reason.

In the letter published in the BMJ they argued that policies in England mean there will soon be a large population who are ‘susceptible’ to the virus mixing in crowded spaces with ‘hardly any mitigations’.

They said children have suffered ‘significant harms’ on their education and wellbing in the pandemic and added: ‘Allowing mass infection of children is therefore reckless.’ 

Earlier school reopenings in Scotland and the US have shown that a lack of ‘adequate mitigations’ is likely to lead to the virus spreading among children, which could further disrupt learning with significant absences due to student and staff illness, they said.

‘England’s policies mean that we will soon have a large susceptible population with high prevalence of infection mixing in crowded environments with hardly any mitigations.’ 

Other signatories include members of the Parent SafeEdForAll group and the National Education Union.

UK medical regulators cleared the Pfizer jab for use on 12- to 15-year-olds in June, declaring it ‘safe and effective in this age group’. The Moderna vaccine was also authorised last month.

Ministers had hoped to vaccinate children during the school holidays to prevent a repeat of the massive disruption seen in schools over the past 18 months. 

Dr Clarke told MailOnline: ‘As long as the data that exists is that there is no greater harm from giving children jabs then children should get vaccinated, with the caveat that there is parental choice.’

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