After weeks of experts calling for the daily statistics to be scrapped, virus infections, hospital admissions and deaths are now being updated only on a country-by-country basis.
While ministers have stopped short of ditching the daily stats completely, today marks another small step towards learning to live with Covid. The Government stopped publishing them at weekends in February.
Scientists welcomed the move today, telling MailOnline the daily infection numbers had become ‘redundant’ now that free testing has been stopped for the vast majority of people.
Health officials are now relying on the Office for National Statistics’ weekly infection survey, which uses random sampling to get a more accurate picture of the virus’ trajectory.
In total, there were 9,751 new infections in England today, which is technically a 66 per cent fall compared to last Tuesday. There were also 272 deaths today, down a quarter on last week. There were no new hospital data today.
Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of reading, called for the daily statistics to be ditched altogether.
‘Those daily case numbers do not have any relationship to the actual number of infections in society, they don’t tell us anything,’ he said.
‘Before they were an indication of how much Covid was in society but now they are redundant [because of mass testing being stopped]. From a medical point of view I suppose it is important to keep a record of Covid hospital admissions and deaths but we only need to focus on them if we see trends going up in the ONS.’
Their fears were seized upon by anti-vaxx conspiracy theorists, who claimed the jabs were linked to stillbirths and other problems during pregnancy.
But British researchers who reviewed the findings of more than 20 studies involving 120,000 pregnant women found those who had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine had a 15 per cent decreased risk compared to un-jabbed women.
Fourth Covid jab boosts immunity ‘over and above’ third dose, UK study finds
The study of around 160 Britons aged 50-80 found the quadruple-vaxxed had up to seven times more T cells and two times more antibodies ‘over and above’ triple-jabbed people.
There were also no clear signs vaccines are getting weaker with each dose, allaying fears that ‘over-vaccinating’ could cause the jabs to lose their potency.
The finding paves the way for millions more Britons to get a fourth dose later this year.
While countries like Israel and Germany have been rolling out fourth doses to their entire population since March, currently only over-75s, care home residents and severely ill patients are being invited in the UK.
British health chiefs have confirmed an autumn Covid vaccine scheme will go ahead, although they have not decided which groups will be eligible.
The study did, however, reveal people who had high levels of antibodies and T cells before they were given a fourth dose only got a small boost to immunity.
These people may have recently been infected recently or have had their third dose more recently, meaning their immunity had not had as long to wane.
Professor Saul Faust, chief investigator of the Cov-Boost study, said this suggests there is a ‘ceiling effect’ on ‘how high you can go’ with immunity which needs to be further studied.
The researchers said still have doubts about whether a fourth dose should be rolled out to younger groups, as they are at lower risk from the virus.
The researchers say this may be down to unvaccinated pregnant women becoming more severely unwell with the virus, which then raises the risk of harming their baby.
And there was no difference in the rate of miscarriages, premature births or heavy bleeding during pregnancy between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The findings provide ‘much-needed assurance’ to women on the safety and benefits of getting jabbed when pregnant, the experts said.
The meta-analysis looked at stillbirths when Delta was world-dominant, so it’s not clear if the findings still apply to the milder Omicron variant.
In early 2021 pregnant women were not offered the jab in the UK out of caution because the original trials did not include them due to ethical reasons.
But by April last year the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) invited pregnant women to come forward after real world data from the US and Israel threw up no causes for concern.
But uptake has remained sluggish among expectant mothers, with only half of pregnant women in England being vaccinated, citing unfounded concerns about the effect of the jab on their baby.
Researchers from St George’s, University of London and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said there is an ‘immediate need’ for robust evidence to support pregnant people considering getting vaccinated.
They reviewed 23 studies which involved 117,562 women around the world who were double-jabbed during pregnancy or unvaccinated.
Almost all were vaccinated with the mRNA jabs made by Pfizer or Moderna — the two used for the cohort in the UK.
The findings, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, showed two doses of the mRNA jabs were 89.5 per cent effective at preventing infection seven days after the second dose.
Jabbed pregnant women were no more likely to suffer miscarriage, give birth early or suffer placental abruption — when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before birth, the data showed.
And there was also no increased risk of the mother developing blood clots, heavy bleeding after birth or dying during pregnancy, while newborns were no more likely to have a low birth weight to be admitted to intensive care.
Professor Asma Khalil, senior study author and an expert in obstetrics and maternal medicine at St George’s, said the findings should help address vaccine hesitancy in pregnant women.
He said: ‘Although many things are returning to normal, there is still a very clear and substantial risk of Covid infection for mothers and their babies, including an increased risk of premature birth and stillbirth.
‘It is essential that as many people as possible receive their vaccines to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.
‘This paper shows that Covid vaccination is both safe and effective and we hope that this will help to reassure pregnant people to take up their offer of a vaccine going forwards.’