If you look hard enough
Positive test results are falling, with even Professor Neil Ferguson saying, “I’m positive that by late September or October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic”. Hospitalisations and deaths have remained much lower than would have been anticipated for the test numbers. Moreover, it seems that over half of the hospital admissions in the daily reports were for non-Covid conditions that simply had positive test results.
For children, the very low mortality rate has been confirmed in a study covering March 2020 to March 2021. Again, of the (few) deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test, a detailed review of the case notes showed that more than half were unrelated to COVID-19, and nearly all others had serious comorbidities. Deaths where COVID-19 was the main or a contributory factor comprised less than 1% of all childhood deaths over the period.
According to a large study from 200 secondary schools in England, the positive test rate for school contacts was only 1.6%. This rate did not depend on whether the children spent 10 days isolating at home or continued in school. Furthermore the ONS have shown that in any random sample of school-aged children, regardless of their contact with SARS-CoV-2, the positive rate would be similar. Yet still, one million plus had to self-isolate as class or year-group contacts — particularly galling for children to know they missed weeks of school for no purpose. Thankfully, from 19 July, although schools could still send healthy children home, they were no longer obliged to self-isolate unless specifically contacted by NHS Test and Trace and from 16 August no under 18s will be required to do so unless they test positive. Let us hope that the government and headteachers stick to this plan and do not return to class isolations in the autumn term.
Meanwhile, many people are taking off their masks, heading off to the beach and starting to support the hospitality industry as it steps out on the road to full recovery. We encourage everyone to return to normality in their own way and in their own time.