The UK’s daily Covid infections jumped 14 per cent in a week, while deaths dropped by a quarter and hospitalisations fell for the sixth day in a row.
Some 42,484 infections were recorded in the last 24 hours, up 14.1 per cent on the 37,243 positive tests registered last Tuesday.
Cases have been trending upwards for the past fortnight after schools went back from the half-term break at the start of the month.
Meanwhile, hospitalisations fell by 12.9 per cent week-on-week, with 826 infected-Britons seeking NHS care on Thursday, the latest date figures are available for.
And daily Covid fatalities fell 22.9 per cent on last week, with 165 people dying within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
Both measurements lag two to three weeks behind the trend in cases due to a delay between a person catching Covid and becoming severely unwell.
It comes as the boss of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca today said the UK’s use of the vaccine may have allowed the country to dodge the current wave of high intensive care rates sweeping through most major EU nations.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive at AstraZeneca, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘When you look at the UK there was a big peak of infections but not so many hospitalisations relative to Europe. In the UK this vaccine was used to vaccinate older people whereas in Europe initially people thought the vaccine doesn’t work in older people.’
Mr Soriot added: ‘T-cells do matter…it matters to the durability of the response especially in older people, and this vaccine has been shown to stimulate T-cells to a higher degree in older people,’ he said.
‘We haven’t seen many hospitalisations in the UK, a lot of infections for sure…but what matters is are you severely ill or not.’
The scientific community had a mixed reaction to Mr Soriot’s comments today, largely agreeing with his comments on the AstraZeneca jab’s ability to generate a T-cell response but also highlighting that much more research needs to be done what that means in terms of its effectiveness.