expert reaction to latest data from the ONS infection survey

expert reaction to latest data from the ONS infection survey


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released the latest data from their COVID-19 Infection Survey.


Prof James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and University of Oxford, said:

“Today’s release covering testing data for the week ending 26th June is unsettling.

“We are firmly now in a third wave of cases. The prevalence in Scotland is estimated to be around 7 people per thousand, England around 4 per thousand. Given the continuing rise in cases revealed by daily test numbers, we can guess Scotland is reaching 1 % infection rate. Wales has also seen an uptick in cases. Some age groups are already over 1 % infection.  The Prime Minister’s and Parliament’s decision to delay unlocking for a month has been validated; more people have been vaccinated and delta has been slowed.

“Without vaccines, however even these numbers and this trajectory would spell disaster. The delta variant is still growing despite track and trace, despite testing, despite restriction and despite masking. The Government commitment to release restrictions on July 19th, means the rate of growth of infections will accelerate. It seems now unavoidable that delta will sweep through the unvaccinated (mainly young). Although young people are at much less risk, it’s not zero. A wave on the scale of what now seems likely will result in lives being blighted. One view, which I have disagreed with was since covid19 “mainly” affects old people it does not matter so much. This seems to have been replaced with, now the old are vaccinated, the young can get on with it which I find equally wrong. Only young children seem to be at almost zero risk. In any event, we are conducting the experiment so we will undoubtably know the truth of this.

“I would urge all those who are not fully vaccinated, to get doubly vaccinated as soon as they can, especially those who are in the most vulnerable groups. For those who have had very weak immune responses to the vaccine; I would suggest they shield themselves if possible even more carefully than before. If you are interacting with the vulnerable, then your wearing of a mask will protect them to some level. Unless you are lucky or extremely careful we are all going to be exposed to delta.

“Increasing vaccination and time will end the delta wave in the UK.

“Since track and trace has failed to hold back delta (or before that alpha) in Scotland and in the UK, it is unclear whether its retention has any value to public health, particularly given current vaccination rates.

“Although we focus on the UK our point of maximum danger has probably passed, although I remain very concerned about the harm for younger people.

“Delta is going to sweep through the EU in much the same way as here, fortunately they too are vaccinating at a very fast rate. They like the UK are probably just past the point of maximum danger but summer will be rough.

“With so few people in developing countries vaccinated, their point of maximum danger is ahead. Once delta gets going it will overwhelm health care systems very rapidly unless vaccination improves. Overwhelming health systems will lead to disproportionate rise in deaths as oxygen runs out, health care professionals are knocked out and other care halted. More thought needs given to whether vaccinating young children in the rich world is as important and ethically justified as vaccinating key workers and the most vulnerable in developing countries.



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