How the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has dramatically reduced deaths

Deaths have plummeted from 400 at the same point during the second wave to just eight.

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The UK is now deep into a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with cases rising by an average of 27,000 every day last week. At the equivalent point in November last year – during the second wave of the virus – more than 400 people were dying from Covid-19 per day, but on Friday 2 July just eight deaths were recorded. 

How the UK's vaccine rollout has dramatically reduced Covid-19 deaths
Cases versus deaths over days 1–50 of the UK's second and third Covid waves
Calculations based on a seven-day rolling average of daily recorded cases and deaths. Second wave is recorded from 8/9/20, third wave is recorded from 14/5/21.
Source: UK Government, ONS

The explanation for the disparity is likely to be the UK’s vaccine rollout, which began on 8 December 2020. Some 86 per cent of UK adults have now received one dose of the vaccine, while 63 per cent have received two. 

Boris Johnson will confirm at a press conference today that legally enforced Covid restrictions, such as mandatory mask-wearing and limits on indoor gatherings, will end on 19 July after the original “freedom day” was delayed from 21 June.

The new Health Secretary Sajid Javid argued in the Mail on Sunday that it will be impossible to eradicate the disease, and that people will now have to “find ways to cope with it” as they do with flu.

Some scientists are nevertheless concerned that ending restrictions such as wearing masks on public transport may be unnecessarily risky as cases continue to rise rapidly.

Nick Ferris is a New Statesman Media Group data journalist 

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