CASES of the coronavirus that are likely to have been caught in hospital have halved in three weeks, official data has revealed.
Hospital staff have been receiving jabs since December and a drop in hospital-caught infections could be a sign that vaccines are slowing transmission of the virus.
Data shows that cases of the virus caught in hospital have significantly droppedCredit: EPA
NHS England data shows that the number of cases has dropped from 635 a day at the start of January to 367 last week.
Despite this, hospital cases remain high in sites across the country and data from the government’s coronavirus dashboard shows that in England there are 32,337 patients in hospital with Covid-19 and across the UK this totals at 37,605.
When it comes to vaccinations, 7.1 million people have received their first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Data also shows that over 474,000 people have also received their second dose.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the proof on how well the vaccines are working should be apparent by the middle of February.
But the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance last night warned that there wasn’t yet “proper data” which would establish the impact of vaccines on transmission.
The graph above shows that the number of patient in hospital is starting to fallCredit: GOV.UK
He said: “We are at a position where the lockdowns have worked, they’ve slowed this down, they’ve reached a position where it has reached a plateau and is beginning to decline – and we see that in cases, we’re beginning to see that in hospital admissions and we’re beginning to see that in deaths – but it is early days.”
Next month a study from Public Health England (PHE) will outline the impact the jabs have had on health workers.
The study looked at 40,000 health workers, some of which were given the jabs at the start of the vaccine programme in January.
Sir Patrick last night hinted at findings from Israel which suggest that vaccinating on mass can cut transmission rates by around 60 per cent.
Israel has already given first jabs to around a third of the population, but Sir Patrick also highlighted that caution would be needed before making an assessment on the impact of the vaccines.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) listed health workers as high priority for vaccines.
This is because they are constantly exposed to the virus during their everyday lives.
NHS workers were some of the first to be offered the jabs and by the start of the year, they were among over 400,000 under 80s to have received a vaccine.
A fall in cases has also been seen in a recent study conducted by Imperial College London.
Scientists said the findings were “really good news” but warned levels must drop further and faster to help take pressure off the NHS.
More than 167,000 people were swabbed across England between 6 and 22 January as part of the React study.
It shows that nationally R – the number of people each Covid cases goes on to infect – is 0.98.
And of the nine regions in England, five were seeing a fall in infections.
But cases still remain the highest recorded by the survey, with one in 64 people now carrying the virus across England.
Speaking to The Telegraph, government sources said a recent drop in cases that could have been acquired by infection in hospitals “gave grounds for optimism”.
These were specifically cases where a diagnosis is made seven days after hospital admission.
The source said: “We know that the vaccines have some impact on symptoms, so the hope is that this will translate into a reduction in transmission, but we don’t yet have the evidence.
“It could be that we are just beginning to see some of these changes being played out in hospitals now growing numbers of staff have had their first jab.”
But one expert warned that infections still needed to be bought down in hospitals.
React study lead Professor Paul Elliott, from Imperial College London, said: “I think we are definitely heartened by the fact that we’re now seeing what looks like a decline.
“The trend is downward.
“Even though we’re seeing this suggestion of a downtick now, which is really good news, it’s by no means as fast as we saw in lockdown one.
“If infections aren’t brought down significantly, hospitals won’t be able to cope with the number of people that need critical care.
“We all need to stay at home wherever possible and help bring the virus under control and protect our already over-stretched health system.”