There has been a large increase in Covid cases in the past week, now at the highest recorded level, according to data collected through the ZOE app.
The latest figures from the ZOE Covid study (17 March) suggests there are currently 258,155 new symptomatic cases every day, a 47% rise from the previous week. It puts the R value for Covid in England and Wales at an estimated 1.2.
Case numbers are rising in all age groups, but with high increases in older people.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app said cases were now at the highest levels they had ever recorded.
‘Even more concerning is the rise in new cases in people aged over 75. This vulnerable group have had low case numbers for months.
He added: ‘We will need to wait a few weeks to see the full impact on increased hospitalisation but numbers have already started to rise.
‘The data shows this pandemic is definitely not over yet and is more unpredictable than ever, despite government messages to the contrary and a lack of public health advice.’
The ZOE Covid study, which gathers data from the public in real time, recently announced that government funding for the project is to be withdrawn.
Professor Azeem Majeed, a GP and professor of primary care at Imperial College London said the increases were concerning but to some extent had been expected now that control measures have ended.
‘We are also seeing signs of increased NHS pressures with more presentations in primary care and hospital admissions increasing, and many staff being off work due to Covid-19.
‘The message for the public is that vaccination is essential to reduce the risk of serious disease. Many people have not come forwards for a booster (third) vaccine, particularly in London and other large cities. Three doses of vaccine are essential to reduce the risks of serious illness and death from Covid-19.’
He added that he also advises people to continue to wear a mask – preferably an FFP2 – when in shops or on public transport.
‘Given that infection rates are increasing again, people who are clinically vulnerable through age or their medical history need to be cautious about entering places where there is a high risk of infection.
The trend identified by the study reflects the rising cases also seen in the official figures, which also show a 49% increase in the past seven days, and the number of new daily infections at 170,230.
This article was initially published on our sister title Pulse.