Covid cases are falling 'better than anyone expected,' is the pub closer than we thought?
With Covid-19 cases falling more quickly than the government’s initial forecast, is the end of social distancing closer than June 21?
Covid-19 case numbers are falling rapidly across the UK, with one London borough recording zero infections.
Yesterday’s figures reported 343 new Covid deaths and 6,391 cases.
That represents a close to three-quarters reduction in the figures at the same time last month - which recorded 1,322 deaths and 19,202 cases.
Professor Neil Ferguson, also known as Professor Lockdown, of Imperial College London has previously hinted in an interview with ITV that it was possible, but “unlikely,” the lockdown easing could happen more quickly.
This is something that prime minister Boris Johnson, and health secretary Matt Hancock, have previously ruled out, stating the easing dates and the end of all social distancing on June 21 are the earliest possible.
However, they have previously claimed that the end of lockdown will be lead by the data, not dates.
Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (SP-M), spoke to The Telegraph about the promising data.
“The data are indeed looking better than the models were predicting and, to the best of my knowledge, better than anyone was expecting, said Woolhouse.
“If the phrase 'data-driven not date-driven' has any meaning, then it must allow for the schedule for relaxing restrictions to be brought forward if the data are better than expected - and not just putting the schedule back if the data are worse than expected.”
Is there chance that we’ll be back in the pubs having a bev before June 21?
It’s too early to say.
This data, while positive, is still emerging in the midst of a lockdown - so the government and scientists will be watching closely as schools return next week on 8 March to see what effect that has on virus transmission, and the all important R number.
And the risk of more mutant Covid variants has potential to throw a spanner in the works of the government's route out of lockdown.