The prevalence of Covid-19 infections in England has fallen for the fourth week in a row, although the decline has slowed alongside widespread easing of lockdown restrictions across the country.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 1 in 1,180 people in England were estimated to have been infected with coronavirus in the week ending 2 May, down from 1 in 1,010 a week earlier.
The figure suggests the reopening of pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops last month did little to dent a downward trend in infections across the country.
However, the rate of decline appears to be slowing, figures from the ONS suggested. Covid prevalence more than halved last week compared to the week before, when 1 in 610 people in England were estimated to have had coronavirus.
And while most English regions marked a continuing decline in infections in the week to 2 May, London, Yorkshire and the Humber and the East of England all noted a slight uptick in infections.
It comes as the UK’s largest ever vaccination programme continues at pace, with more than 51.2m doses administered so far. It means more than 66 per cent of Britain’s adult population have received at least a first dose of a Covid vaccine.
The government is currently offering Covid jabs to over-40s, with invitations calling under-40s to get their first injection to be sent out later this month.
However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) this morning announced that all under-40s in the UK will be offered an alternative to the Astrazeneca coronavirus vaccine following concerns of rare blood clots.
The move marks an extension of the JCVI’s current guidance, following a decision by the committee last month to steer under-30s away from Astrazeneca jab.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, member of the JCVI’s Covid subcommittee, said: “Safety remains our number one priority.
“As Covid-19 rates continue to come under control, we are advising that adults aged 18- 39 years with no underlying health conditions are offered an alternative to the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, if available, and if it does not cause delays in having the vaccine.”
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) insisted that the AstraZeneca jab remained safe and effective, and that the benefits continued to outweigh the risks for the “vast majority of people”.