Covid cases will rise ‘exponentially’ again within DAYS after ‘temporary slowing’, expert warns

AN EXPERT has warned Covid cases will “exponentially” grow within days, blasting hopes of a shrinking outbreak.

Yesterday the Government reported 39,906 new infections, which was almost 18 per cent lower than last Thursday’s figure and down for the first time since May.

Clubbers line up in Birmingham on Thursday - an expert has said the impact of Freedom Day won't be known until at least August 9


Clubbers line up in Birmingham on Thursday – an expert has said the impact of Freedom Day won’t be known until at least August 9Credit: SnapperSK

But Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said it was likely the unusual statistic was only “temporary”.

He said: “It is still too early to see any impact of the relaxations of Monday 19th and some of the reduction in cases will be because of many children no longer being tested as regularly now schools are closed. 

“I would caution that this may just be a temporary slowing in reports before we start to see a return to exponential growth towards the end of next week as a result of the ending of restrictions last week.”

Prof Hunter said it would not be known until August 9 how Freedom Day, which went ahead in England despite soaring Delta cases, has driven infections rates.

There is always a lag between an action, such as easing lockdown in England, and its impact on case numbers. 


For example, Prof Hunter said there was a significant acceleration in new cases about ten days after the first England game in the Euros and the quarter finals. 

“If such a perturbation as the Euros caused only a temporary acceleration in the increase in case numbers despite games continuing this may bode well for the impact of the 19th July,” he said.

“It could suggest we will see only a short-term boost towards the end of next week followed by slowing or even a decline in the days following. Time will tell.”

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Other experts admitted it was too early to say if there were positive trends in the data.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises ministers, told the PA news agency: “School closure, which occurred in Scotland on 23 June and has been occurring in the rest of the country more recently, will start to have an effect.

“In addition, the enormous numbers of adults and children self-isolating over the last few weeks should also help slow epidemic growth.

“On the other hand, it must be remembered that the effect of loosening restrictions earlier this week will not be apparent in the epidemiological data yet.

“So it is difficult to say exactly what will happen. What does seem pretty likely though is that if we do not take any further action we are in for an extended period of high incidence with all the disruption and risk of hospitalisations and deaths that that entails.”

It is probably premature to suggest that we are seeing a levelling-off of infections based on today’s data

Dr Simon Clarke

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “It is probably premature to suggest that we are seeing a levelling-off of infections based on today’s data.

“Numbers of infections over the past year have shown big rises and falls much like today, and so it’s wise to look at the trends rather than getting too excited about daily numbers.

“We have not yet seen the effect of lifting of final restrictions on 19 July on numbers, nor have we yet seen how school summer holidays may take some heat out of the infection numbers.”

Dr Clarke said even if the virus stops spreading during the summer holidays, it can “expect to be reversed come September”. 

“Vaccinations will have the largest effect to reduce those numbers,” he said.

It came after one of the most prominent studies tracking the outbreak found it was not plateauing, as previously estimated.

Experts who run the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app had said last week it looked like the third wave had “peaked” at 33,000 new symptomatic cases a day.

But on Thursday it U-turned and said cases were still rising, after changing its methodology.

Tim Spector, professor at King’s College London and lead scientist on the ZOE study, said Covid is “definitely not going away any time soon”.

“Unfortunately, hopes that the current wave of infections had peaked have faded, as ZOE’s updated data shows new Covid cases continuing to rise as the UK lifts most restrictions,” he said.

“We mustn’t forget the lessons of the pandemic in our rush to return to ‘normal life’, as this will only prolong Covid’s grip on our lives.”

Public Health England’s data showed that the outbreak grew in every local authority in England except five in the past week.

By region, case numbers shot up the most in the South West, and are highest in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Prof Hunter believes we could see a return to exponential growth next week


Prof Hunter believes we could see a return to exponential growth next weekCredit: Rex


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