Infection rates in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin have until recently been dropping by more than 40% a week. The rate of fall was astonishing. But in the last few days there are signs that the drop infection rate is slowing in England and may even have halted in Shropshire.
Infection rates are now low. Restrictions have been eased. The government is urging people to go back to work. But vaccination rates among young people remain low. Young people are less likely to suffer serious health impacts from Covid-19 but a small number will suffer seriously from the disease. They will also spread the disease and while the disease is prevalent, the danger of new variants emerging remains high, including escape variants which are able to dodge the vaccines.
We have been on a rollercoaster since March 2020. We have found ways of working with Covid-19. But the epidemic will never be over until the world is vaccinated.
It had been expected that rates would fall with increased vaccination among younger people and the closure of schools for the summer holidays. But there were counter factors including the Euros, which saw gatherings of unvaccinated people, and the 19 July abandoning of almost all restrictions. Nevertheless, the fall until a week ago was impressive.
In Shropshire, the rate of infection plummeted from a peak of 393 per 100,000 people in the week beginning 17 July to 130 just two weeks later. Since then, the infection rate has crept up to just below 200. There are many factors that could influence this, including people rushing to get tested before going on holiday. But is not the trend that we hope for.
The latest reported rates for Ludlow are just over 100 people 100,000 in the week to 7 August.
Do we now have a high level of herd immunity? The Office of National Statistics estimates that around 9 in 10 adults had antibodies against coronavirus in the week beginning 4 August 2021. That suggests they have had the infection in the past or have been vaccinated. That’s good news though there is a scientific debate over the level of herd immunity we need to prevent future outbreaks.
We will obviously never achieve 100% immunity. Some people can’t be vaccinated and some don’t develop enough antibodies. Of greater concern now is that the lack of vaccination is among the younger, more active population.
That’s why vaccine passport access to nightclubs and major events makes sense, providing it does not bar those who cannot be vaccinated. Barring the unvaccinated is likely to breach the principles of equality that are the bedrock of a modern society and more specifically, barring might breach the Equality Act.