The government confirmed 12,872 new cases of coronavirus over the weekend, while scientists and health officials issued warnings that a vaccine will not be a magic solution to the pandemic.
An analysis drawn from various public health bodies (including ONS, NRS and NISRA) by the BBC shows an additional 16 cases developed in Norwich over the week from 23-29 September. The figure claims that, as of 02 October, Norwich has seen a total of 431 cases of coronavirus with 24 COVID-related deaths attributed to the city.
But a report from the Norwich Evening Standard offers much higher figures. On 01 October, it details the first patient death from coronavirus in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for six weeks. The article writes this brings the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the hospital’s wards up to 125.
The contrast in figures is not unique to the local level. Three different findings have been put forward as the total number of COVID-related deaths in the UK (This is due to there being three different ways of measuring the number of COVID-19 related deaths).
In August a government review into how coronavirus deaths were documented led to a system whereby only deaths within a 28-day period after receiving a positive test were counted. This puts the overall death toll at 42,317. The second method includes all instances where coronavirus is mentioned on the death certificate, even if the person had not been tested for coronavirus. This method puts the overall death toll at 57,114. The third method is a record of the total number of excess deaths – it tallies up how many more people are dying than would usually be expected for this time of year. This method puts the total number of coronavirus deaths at 64, 878.
COVID-19 has returned to UEA as well. On 29 October it was announced that two UEA students had received positive tests. One of the students’ lives in university halls, the other lives off campus. The university announced that both of their respective houses had been told to self-isolate and that they were working with NHS England and local health officials to track down anyone that might have been in close contact with the students.
Country-wide cases increased by around 7,000 a day during the week of 01 October. Although statistics from the ONS suggest the rate of increase is slower than in previous weeks, the government advisory body Sage says it is “highly likely” the epidemic is spreading at an exponential rate. This means the virus is accelerating in the speed at which it spreads.
At the same time, a report from scientists and researchers brought together by the Royal Society has looked at dispelling the myths around what a vaccine could achieve and the amount of time it could take.
While the government’s scientific advisors remain optimistic that some people might get a working vaccine by the end of this year, rolling it out to begin mass vaccinations in early 2021, the report urges for a “realistic” view.
Estimates in the report say it could take up to a year after the vaccine becomes available to achieve widespread vaccination. Concerns over the required amount of raw materials, such as glass for vials, and refrigerator space have also been raised, with some vaccines needing to be stored at -80oC.
Currently, there are 200 experimental vaccines in production.
Many questions surrounding vaccinations also remain unanswered, such as: whether boosters will be required, how the vaccine will work with aged or weaker immune systems, and whether the government will make it a mandatory requirement.