Over the last month, the number of daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK soared, with reports of over 68,000 confirmed cases on 8 January 2021, the highest reported since the start of the pandemic. The new record comes at a time when the nation is on lockdown and has been administering highly effective vaccines for a month, showing that the Covid-19 trend can be slow to turn despite interventions.
According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 dashboard, confirmed cases in the UK started to rise considerably (Figure 1) after a noticeable decline between the middle of November 2020 and the start of December 2020. Over 1.3 million positive cases were reported between 10 December 2020, and 10 January 2021, an average of over 40,000 new cases daily. This may be a result of the UK relaxing lockdown rules on 2 December 2020, as well as the compounding effect of the influenza season.
The UK implemented two major counterattacks against the Covid-19 pandemic: a vaccination campaign and a national lockdown. However, they are not yet effective. The UK commenced Covid-19 vaccination on December 8, 2020. As of 3 January 2021, over one million vaccines had been administered, covering just 1.5% of the population. Considering the current R number range in the UK, 1.0–1.4, for the vaccination to be effective, up to 29% of the population, or over 19 million people, will need to be vaccinated. The UK will need to significantly increase the vaccine uptake rate in a timely manner if the country is to start seeing a steady decrease in Covid-19 cases.
Since 5 January 2021, the UK has been on a national lockdown with various restrictions in place to reduce spread. These same restrictions were implemented during the second national lockdown on 5 November 2020, following which a decline was noticed within two weeks. With these measures in place, the number of Covid-19-positive cases should start to decrease in the following weeks.
Figure 1: Daily Confirmed Cases of Covid-19 in the UK and Two-Week Forecast of Covid-19 Cases in the UK.
Source: GlobalData, Covid-19 Dashboard.
GlobalData epidemiologists produce a two-week prediction forecast for countries with available historic data on Covid-19 confirmed cases. As seen in Figure 1, confirmed cases of Covid-19 are predicted to decrease in the following weeks, with the possibility of falling as low as approximately 11,000 cases by 24 January 2021. This forecast is based on historical patterns of recovery that were achieved with public health measures, such as the lockdown. Considering the UK is currently in a lockdown, this decline is a prediction of what we expect to see based on previously implemented measures. However, the introduction of the vaccine plays a big role in maintaining low numbers of daily confirmed cases. The vaccine reduces Covid-19 susceptibility, making the spread of Covid-19 more difficult as there are fewer infected people to spread it. As a result, the more vaccinated individuals in the population, the fewer positive cases we should see. This also means the maintenance of a downward trend to zero cases is highly likely, meaning this could be the final peak in Covid-19 cases for the UK.