Daily Covid cases jump by a fifth in a week to 112,458 as officials start to count reinfections

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Daily Covid cases rose by a fifth in a week today in what is believed to be partly due to the Government counting reinfections — but deaths fell significantly.

There were 112,458 cases logged in the past 24 hours, according to Government dashboard data, marking a 19.2 per cent rise on the 94,326 last week. It is the biggest week-on-week rise since January 4 but it is unclear exactly how many are reinfections, given that last week’s tally didn’t include any. 

The rise comes after weeks of plateauing infection rates and a day after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) began adding reinfections to the daily tally. 

An extra 580,000 backdated cases were added to Britain’s cumulative total when the adjustment was made on Monday. The antibody-resistant Omicron variant has pushed reinfection rates up since its emergence late last year.

Meanwhile, there were 219 more coronavirus deaths registered in the UK today, down by 50 per cent compared to the figure last week. The sharp drop comes despite a long-term trend of higher death counts on Tuesdays due to weekend recording delays.

Daily hospital admissions have also continued to fall. A total of 1,472 Britons were admitted to hospital with the virus on January 28 – the latest date with data – which marked a near-10 per cent fall in a week.

Daily admissions have been falling for more than a fortnight and the share of patients testing positive after arriving in hospital for a different illness has been rising — a symptom of the milder Omicron variant.

The Office for National Statistics has spotted a similar trend with deaths. A report by the stats body today found that the virus is not the underlying cause in 27 per cent of deaths.

The ONS’ weekly report found there were 1,484 deaths involving the coronavirus registered in England and Wales in the seven days to January 21.

Covid was not the primary reason in 27 per cent of cases — up from a figure just below 23 per cent towards the start of the month.

Covid is now NOT the underlying cause in 27% of deaths

The proportion of Covid deaths where the virus is not the underlying cause is continuing to increase in England and Wales, official data showed today.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show there were 1,484 deaths involving the coronavirus registered in both countries during the week ending January 21.

Covid was not the primary reason in 27 per cent of cases — up from a figure just below 23 per cent towards the start of the month. 

For comparison, the share of deaths not primarily due to the virus stood at around 16 per cent when Omicron first arrived in the UK. With the Alpha wave last January, before vaccines were dished out en masse, the proportion was about 10 per cent. 

The rise of the milder Omicron strain has led to a similar pattern emerging in hospitals, where half of virus inpatients are not primarily needing treatment for the infection.

Critics have warned that the rise in so-called ‘incidental’ cases, driven by the sheer prevalence of Omicron, is skewing the Government’s daily coronavirus statistics.

It comes after the Government yesterday added re-infections to its daily stats dump for the first time, which put an extra 580,000 cases to the cumulative total.

The update means the case-death rate in the fourth wave has been even lower than initially thought and is up to 30 times lower than in the second wave this time last year. 

 

For comparison, the share of deaths not primarily due to the virus stood at around 16 per cent when Omicron first arrived in the UK. With the Alpha wave last January, before vaccines were dished out en masse, the proportion was about 10 per cent.

The rise of the milder Omicron strain has led to a similar pattern emerging in hospitals, where half of virus inpatients are not primarily needing treatment for the infection.

Critics have warned that the rise in so-called ‘incidental’ cases, driven by the sheer prevalence of Omicron, is skewing the Government’s daily coronavirus statistics.

The Government’s daily figures, unlike the ONS’, are based on fatalities registered within 28 days of a positive test – regardless of the underlying cause. 

The ONS’ analysis looks at all death certificates registered and distinguishes between those who died ‘from’ Covid versus ‘with’ the virus.

Experts caution, however, that even if someone didn’t die directly from Covid, the virus may have still contributed to their death.  

The ONS figures show England and Wales registered 12,776 deaths from all causes in the week ending January 21. This was down by 535 from the previous week and 8.6 per cent below the five-year-average.

Of those deaths, 1,484 mentioned ‘novel coronavirus’ on the death certificate — an increase of 7.4 per cent on the previous week.

But just 1,082 of those were primarily caused by the coronavirus, a figure that rose just 1.1 per cent over the same period. It was the lowest share since last summer, according to the ONS figures.      

Covid caused 8.5 per cent of all deaths registered in England and Wales for the week ending January 21. The virus was mentioned on the death certificate of 11.6 per cent of fatalities.  

The increase in deaths not primarily caused by the virus has been mirrored by a huge surge in ‘incidental’ Covid hospitalisations.

The majority of infected patients being treated on NHS wards were not primarily ill with the virus as of January 25, illustrating .

There were 13,023 Covid patients in hospital, according to the latest NHS England figures, of which only 6,256 were primarily there for the virus (48 per cent). 

This share has plummeted since the emergence of the Omicron variant in late November, when three-quarters of inpatients were mainly ill with the disease.  

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, previously told MailOnline it was ‘absolutely’ the time to start differentiating between primary and incidental Covid patients in the daily numbers.

The above graph shows the case fatality rate — the proportion of Covid cases leading to deaths — by primary infection (red) and by both primary infections and reinfections (orange). It shows the CFR has dropped by about 10 per cent

The above graph shows the case fatality rate — the proportion of Covid cases leading to deaths — by primary infection (red) and by both primary infections and reinfections (orange). It shows the CFR has dropped by about 10 per cent

1,484 mentioned 'novel coronavirus' on the death certificate in the week ending January 21, an increase of 7.4 per cent on the previous week when 1,382 were recorded. But just 1,082 of those were primarily caused by the virus, with non-incidental Covid deaths only increasing by 1.1 per cent over the same period

1,484 mentioned ‘novel coronavirus’ on the death certificate in the week ending January 21, an increase of 7.4 per cent on the previous week when 1,382 were recorded. But just 1,082 of those were primarily caused by the virus, with non-incidental Covid deaths only increasing by 1.1 per cent over the same period

The proportion of ‘incidental’ Covid deaths where the virus was not the main cause has continued to increase to 27 per cent in England and Wales in the week ending January 21, Office for National Statistics data showed today

Meanwhile, analysis shows Covid’s death rate is even lower than thought after reinfections were piled into the Government’s tally.

Fatality rates from the coronavirus are up to 30 times lower now than during the devastating second wave, thanks to the build-up of natural immunity, a hugely successful vaccination drive and the milder nature of Omicron.

But the proportion of infected people who end up dying has fallen by another 10 per cent after last night’s update, according to MailOnline’s analysis. 

Covid fatality rate in England has plunged by almost 10% with Government’s addition of nearly 600,000 reinfections 

Covid’s death rate is even lower than thought, official data suggests after nearly 600,000 reinfections were piled into the Government’s own tally.

Fatality rates from the coronavirus are up to 30 times lower now than during the devastating second wave, thanks to the build-up of natural immunity, a hugely successful vaccination drive and the milder nature of Omicron.

But the proportion of infected people who end up dying has fallen by another 10 per cent after last night’s update, according to MailOnline’s analysis. 

Just 0.23 per cent of all confirmed cases led to deaths in England before the long-awaited addition of reinfections, UK Health Security Agency statistics suggest. However, the rate for exactly the same time period — which relates to mid-January — has now dropped to 0.21 per cent because of the addition of extra cases. 

This is still slightly above flu, which has a case-fatality rate of around 0.1 per cent. But some experts claim the two figures are very similar, even if coronavirus is much more transmissible. 

Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infectious diseases from the University of East Anglia, said reinfections were ‘almost always’ milder than primary infections.

He added: ‘Consequently, we can expect the severity of Covid to decrease further as more and more of the daily infections are reinfections.’

Just 0.23 per cent of all confirmed cases led to deaths in England before the long-awaited addition of reinfections, UK Health Security Agency statistics suggest. However, the rate for exactly the same time period — which relates to mid-January — has now dropped to 0.21 per cent because of the addition of extra cases. 

This is still slightly above flu, which has a case-fatality rate of around 0.1 per cent. But some experts claim the two figures are very similar, even if coronavirus is much more transmissible. 

Professor Hunter said reinfections were ‘almost always’ milder than primary infections.

He added: ‘Consequently, we can expect the severity of Covid to decrease further as more and more of the daily infections are reinfections.’

MailOnline calculated the case fatality rate (CFR) — used by epidemiologists to check the severity of a disease —  by dividing the seven-day average of Covid cases by deaths two weeks later.

A lag was built in because of the time taken for someone who catches the virus to die from the disease. 

Latest data for January 12 — the latest date available to calculate the CFR — showed 91,955 people were testing positive for the first time every day, on average. 

At the same time, fatalities — defined as deaths within 28 days of a positive test — stood at roughly 213. 

But in last night’s update to include 588,114 reinfections since the pandemic began, the average number of cases for January 12 shot up by 10,000. This pushed the CFR down slightly from its previous level. 

Covid death numbers were not only those fatalities directly due to the virus, which likely would have pushed the CFR even lower. 

Covid reinfections were rare at the start of the pandemic because so few Britons had caught the virus due to lockdowns and stringent self-isolation rules.

The UKHSA — which defines reinfections as when someone tests positive for the virus more than 90 days after a previous positive swab — logged its first in June 2020, just four months into the pandemic. 

Reinfections accounted for less than two per cent of Covid cases — or one in 50 infections — during the Alpha and Delta waves that struck the UK.

But since the arrival of Omicron they have been ticking upwards, with the variant known to be better at evading previous immunity.

At the end of December reinfections made up about eight per cent of cases, but they are now behind more than 11 per cent.

Despite the rise, Professor Hunter said there was no sign that reinfections were changing the course of the current Omicron wave. He added that there was no need to impose further restrictions to tackle them. 

Experts said last night the addition of the figures could also be an early warning sign of waning immunity, helping officials determine when extra booster shots might be needed.

UK officials have already secured enough Covid doses to roll out fourth shots if needed in the coming months — and other countries including Israel have already launched revaccination campaigns. 

As well as the reinfections, UKHSA bosses also logged an additional 173,328 ‘formerly unreported’ cases.

The revision pushed up the UK’s official cumulative tally by 4.1 per cent to 14.8million confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

But only England and Northern Ireland are currently reporting reinfection figures. Scotland and Wales say they will also start to publish the statistics in the coming days. 

Britain has recorded 156,000 Covid deaths since March 2020. Other surveillance measures paint a similar picture.

The ONS — which counts fatalities by mentions of the virus on death certificates — says the toll stands at around 178,000.

But the proportion down to the virus is now pointing downwards, with latest Office for National Statistics figures showing one in five Covid fatalities (402 out of 1,484 deaths) were not due to the virus in the week to January 21.

For comparison, the share of deaths not primarily due to the virus stood at around 16 per cent when Omicron first arrived in the UK. With the Alpha wave last January, before vaccines were dished out en masse, the proportion was about 10 per cent. 

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