The latest results from an ongoing study from Imperial College London to track COVID-19 patterns in Britain show that infections have fallen by more than two-thirds since January, likely due to lockdowns.
In other global developments, the World Health Organization announced a new battle plan against COVID-19.
Declines spanned age-groups, regions
The research team based at Imperial College London, part of the REACT program, has been using home-based swab tests to tracking virus spread, and their latest results from a preprint study include 85,000 people who were tested between Feb 4 and Feb 13. Infections fell across the country, with steeper drops in London and the South East, and more modest declines in Yorkshire and Humber.
Prevalence dipped across all ages at a similar level, suggesting that the pattern is due to the lockdown, rather than vaccination. However, they warned that infections are still high, at about 1 in 200 people, with the highest levels seen in young people ages 5 to 12 and those ages 18 to 24 years old.
Paul Elliott, MBBS, PhD, who directs the research program, said in an Imperial College news release that the results are encouraging about lockdown impact. “While the trends we’ve observed are good news, we need to all work to keep infections down by sticking to the measures which are designed to protect us and our health system.”
WHO updates COVID game plan
At a WHO media briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, announced the launch of a plan to battle COVID-19 in 2021. Called the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP), the plan needs $1.96 billion to meet its six goals, which range from suppressing transmission to countering misinformation to speeding equitable access to tools for battling the virus.
“Fully funding the SPRP is not just an investment in responding to COVID-19, it’s an investment in the global recovery and in building the architecture to prepare for, prevent and mitigate future health emergencies.
He said a similar plan for 2020 received an unprecedented global response, raising $1.58 billion of the $1.7 billion the WHO had asked for.
In other COVID-19 fronts, Tedros said the WHO tomorrow will launch a new vaccine equity declaration, which comes as G7 leaders meet tomorrow.
He also said earlier this year, he called for healthcare worker vaccination to be under way in the first 100 days of the year. Now at the halfway point of the time span, progress has been made but more efforts are needed, now that AstraZeneca-Oxford is rolling out to more countries through the COVAX program.
Increases in Africa; mink farm risks
In other global headlines:
- Though Africa’s overall COVID-19 cases have declined in the most affected countries over the past 2 months, some countries are reporting rising cases, Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, head of the WHO’s African regional office, said today at a briefing. Countries where cases are rising include Zambia, Togo, South Sudan, Senegal, and Ghana.
- The spread of SARS-CoV-2 from mink farms poses a high risk to humans and susceptible wildlife populations, according to a new joint assessment from the WHO, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The WHO’s European region is the world’s largest producer of fur, and a survey of 31 countries that responded found that 15 have a fur industry, mainly minks. Nine have surveillance systems to detect SARS-CoV-2 in humans on the farms, and 8 have documented the virus in mink farm workers.
- The global COVID total today topped 110 million cases and is at 110,174,357 cases with 2,436,774 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.