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COVID-19: Will There Be a Third Wave?

covid-19 social distancing

Today (July 19th) is the day that most of England's COVID-19 restrictions are lifting. It's a day we've all been waiting for, but one that's causing a lot of mixed emotions and anxiety too. Coronavirus certainly hasn't disappeared, in fact, the number of infections is rising on a daily basis - so will there be a third wave? It certainly seems likely, however, the ongoing vaccination program should be reducing the number of serious illnesses we see. So, will there be a third wave of COVID-19 - yes! In fact, it's already here. Let's take a look at some of the recent statistics to see how the pandemic has developed over the past few weeks...

The Delta variant

If you've been listening to the news over the past few weeks, you'll know that the Delta variant is the new strain of COVID-19 sweeping the nation. This variant has been deemed more transmissible than the coronavirus strains that came before it, the third wave of the pandemic is going to look a lot different compared to the previous two. Initial reports released by Public Health England suggested that the R rate (that's the number of people that one person with the Delta variant is likely to infect) could rise to between 5 and 7!

The start of the third wave

With the new Delta variant being highly contagious, it's no surprise that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are no longer in decline. From the middle of May 2020, we started to see the number of cases increasing at a rate that's not dissimilar to the rate of infection we experienced back at the beginning of the pandemic. On July 15th, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK reached 58,606, a number that's scarily similar to numbers we saw back in January during the second wave.

Hospitalisations are relatively low

While it's clear to see that we're heading into the third wave of COVID-19, data suggests that the number of hospitalisations is remaining relatively low. This is due to the ongoing vaccination program that's providing people with a greater level of protection against the virus. For comparison, during the peak of the second wave, 84 people in 1000 who tested positive for COVID-19 ended up in hospital. Now, only 16 people in 1000 are being admitted to hospital with the virus. Of course, just because hospitalisations are fewer, doesn't mean they've stopped completely. It's still a good idea to be cautious around those who are most likely to be vulnerable to the virus, eg. elderly people & people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Lifting of restrictions

For England, July 19 signifies the start of a new normal. As of yesterday, almost all legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted, leaving people to make up their own minds whether or not they want to continue taking precautions. While the vaccine program is providing some level of reassurance, there are still hot spots of COVID-19 outbreaks across the UK. There are still a lot of people across the UK (46%) that have not been vaccinated, so we're not out of the woods completely! 

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