On 7 March, the UK reported 5,265 confirmed Covid-19 cases, its lowest number since the second wave peak of more than 68,000 cases on 8 January. This significant decline means the country has seen a 92% decrease in daily confirmed cases in just under two months, emphasising the effectiveness of the implemented public health measures, specifically the national lockdown, social distancing measures and vaccinations.
Since Covid-19 vaccinations in the UK began on 8 December, more than 21.9 million first doses have been administered, covering more than 32% of the UK population. The reproduction number (R number) denotes the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person and is used to monitor how rapidly an infection is spreading in a given population. The R number range for the UK has fallen to 0.7–0.9 from 1.0–1.4 in January, indicating that the number of transmissions has been significantly reduced because of the public health interventions.
GlobalData epidemiologists produced a two-week prediction forecast on confirmed Covid-19 cases in countries with available historic data. As shown by the graph below, the number of confirmed cases is predicted to decrease in the next two weeks, with the possibility of falling as low as around 1,053 cases by 21 March. This is in line with historical patterns of recovery that had been achieved with public health measures.
On 28 February, Public Health England announced that six new cases of the Brazilian Covid-19 variant had been identified, all linked to travellers arriving from Brazil. Given the awareness of new variants, further measures have been introduced, including restricting travel from high-risk countries. Researchers are still learning about new variants and caution is being taken to ensure that their spread is limited, especially as the efficacy of the current vaccines against these variants is not yet known.
The UK national lockdown is being eased, with schools now reopened and plans in place for non-essential industries to open in April. This increased level of social interaction will be a true test of the effectiveness of vaccinations in limiting the spread of the virus. If the R number continues to fall, the end of the pandemic may be in sight.