In Depth

‘Big zero’ seen as significant moment after 453 consecutive days of people dying

by The Week team

2 Jun 2021

The UK has recorded zero daily deaths from coronavirus for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The milestone comes as the government’s scientific advisers and Tory MPs “butt heads over whether 21 June’s ‘Freedom Day’ should be delayed in the face of the Indian variant”, says the Daily Mail.

Some scientists have warned that a third wave of infections is imminent, while others insist the vaccination programme is severing the link between hospitalisations and deaths. Here are some of the key numbers and charts that the government will be monitoring closely.

Zero daily deathsYesterday’s figure might have been distorted by a delay in reporting over the bank holiday weekend, but the “big zero fits with the general downward trend”, reports Sky News.

The latest figures on gov.uk show that a total of 127,782 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test up to 1 June, with a daily peak of 1,358 deaths recorded on 19 January. Yesterday was therefore a “significant moment” says ITV News’s science editor Tom Clarke. “The moment, after 453 consecutive days of people dying from Covid-19, that the dying stopped.”

Weekly cases rise by 32%The number of weekly coronavirus cases is still relatively low at 24,090, compared with a daily high of more than 80,000 seen in the winter, but scientists are carefully watching the pace at which they are rising and the severity of infection. The number of weekly cases to 1 June rose 32% from the previous week.

The five local authorities with the highest weekly number of cases were Lancashire (1,133), Bolton (1,111), Glasgow City (837), Blackburn with Darwen (623) and Manchester (556), while just three areas, all off the coast of Scotland, had zero cases: Na h-Eileanan Siar (Outer Hebrides), Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands.

Weekly hospitalisations rise by 23%The number of people admitted to hospital with Covid rose by 23% to 870 in the week to 25 May. However the daily number of patients needing mechanical ventilation beds has remained fairly steady, between 120 and 130 since 13 May, down from peaks of more than 4,000 in January.

Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, told The Telegraph that “the demand for critical care beds is significantly lower than it was in previous waves” as the vaccines have broken the link between infections and hospitalisations, as well as the level of harm from infection. 

First vaccine received by 75% of adultsHealth Secretary Matt Hancock is due to give a speech at the Jenner Institute in Oxford later to praise the UK’s inoculation project, which has seen 39 million people, 75% of adults, given at least one shot. 

However, as a Public Health England study reported in the British Medical Journal suggested that this only offers 33% protection against the Indian variant, some scientists have urged the government to increase the proportion of fully vaccinated people before it lifts social distancing restrictions further. 

Nearly 26 million people have received their second dose, with Hancock expected to say later that the vaccination programme team was “the single greatest asset that we had in this crisis”.