Scientists are “puzzled” by the recent drop in Covid infections, citing the heatwave, school closures, the Euros tournament ending or a decrease in testing.
Few straws have been left unclutched in the bid to explain the anomaly. Yet amid the bewilderment, few seem willing to consider the prospect that it is the vaccination programme which is doing most of the heavy lifting.
Science Editor Sarah Knapton explains in this analysis that Britain may be finally nearing the Holy Grail of herd immunity.
It comes as one of the world’s most renowned forecasters criticised Prof Neil Ferguson for his “overconfident” prediction that Covid cases could possibly rise to 200,000 a day. It looks like Britain actually peaked at around 60,000 cases on July 15 .
Nate Silver, an American statistician, said there were too many variables in the pandemic for anyone to be certain of the outcome.
Harry de Quetteville asks: Why are we in thrall to ‘superforecasters’ like Prof Ferguson?
Meanwhile, Britain expects the US to drop its UK travel ban after ministers reopened the borders to Americans.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday announced that fully vaccinated travellers from the US and the EU would be allowed to enter Britain without quarantine from Monday. He also made clear that he expects the move to be reciprocated.
But do not pack your bags yet. US Correspondent Josie Ensor explains why President Biden is in no rush to let Britons back in to the US . working from home could become the norm for many .
Fan injured in Hillsborough tragedy dies 32 years on
The Hillsborough disaster has claimed its 97th victim after a man left with life-changing injuries as a result of the crush died at the age of 55 . The family of Andrew Devine last night confirmed that he died on Tuesday, 32 years after he was badly hurt in the tragedy at the FA Cup semi-final on April 15 1989. Mr Devine was left in a wheelchair and unable to speak. A coroner’s inquest ruled yesterday that he was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster . Mr Devine was described by his family as a “much-loved son, brother and uncle”, while Liverpool FC said it was “deeply saddened” by his death. Read what happened in the worst stadium-related disaster in English sporting history.
Welsh slate Unesco for ‘attracting too many English’
Welsh-speaking residents of the “British Machu Picchu” fear Wales’s newest Unesco site will attract too many English tourists . The slate landscape of North West Wales, known for the historic quarrying of the building material, has been accredited as the UK’s newest world heritage site. But campaigners in Gwynedd warned this could cause an influx of tourists and turn Welsh communities into “ghost towns”. Read our appraisal of the quarries that are “just as fascinating as the Taj Mahal” .
Daily dose of Matt
- Today’s cartoon | View Matt ‘s latest cartoon on an imagined future of Covid passports
Also in the news: Today’s other headlines
‘Transphobic’ | A French teacher has been sacked after attempting to scupper the election hopes of a transgender candidate who wanted to be Head Girl. Susan Field told her tutor group she felt the pupil was not “representative” of the student body and it was not an “appropriate” role for her, the teaching watchdog found. Camilla Turner has the full story .
- Ee bah gone? | Northern accents could be dead in 45 years
- Memory | Forget five-a-day and remember three-a-day instead
- Chelsea | Abramovich ‘did not buy football club for Putin’, court told
- Westminster wages | Treasury civil servants given 30pc pay rises
- Climate | Building on flood-risk land to be barred to protect homes
Around the world: Beijing boosts ties with Taliban
China has pledged its support for the Taliban during Afghanistan’s reconstruction, a major boon for the insurgents. Joe Wallen reports that Taliban leaders were invited to China’s foreign ministry in Beijing in the militant group’s first official meeting with a foreign government since it launched an offensive in May. View more world pictures of the day .
Comment and analysis
- Allister Heath | Tories are drifting into an autumn of political chaos
- Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Western investors are ‘road kill’ to China
- Michael Deacon | Here’s my free booze plan to save on pensions
- Ben Lawrence | Music unites us, so let’s stop politicising the Proms
- Reader letters | UK lost expertise in nuclear power production
- What makes a sports star ‘strong’? | Does today’s focus on mental health help or hinder?
- ‘I still feel sexy post-50’ | ‘Why should I stop having fun just because I’m an older woman?’
- Great dishwasher debate | Rinse or no rinse? It is time to settle this once and for all
Business and money briefing
Diversity | Public companies with fewer than two female directors out of five will have to give investors an annual statement to explain why. The Financial Conduct Authority has announced new proposals to boost diversity amid claims corporate Britain remains “very male and white”.
- Property | House prices cool, but boom is not about to bust
- Fantasy Fund Manager | Still time to join for chance to win £5k
- Alex | View today’s cartoon strip on the world of finance
Olympics | Helen Glover said she hoped she had inspired her children to “take risks and to take chances, with no fear of failure” after she and partner Polly Swann narrowly missed out on a medal in the women’s coxless pair . On a disappointing night for Team GB, James Wilby was unable to continue the medal rush at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre , fading to finish sixth in a fast 200m breaststroke final. Get the latest from the Games each day with our Olympics Briefing newsletter .
- Rugby | Richard Cockerill ‘in the frame’ for England role
- Second Test | Murray warns Lions to expect unexpected
- Tottenham | Club set sights on Vlahovic to support Kane
And finally… for this morning’s downtime
‘Women still don't feel safe’ | 35 years on from Suzy Lamplugh's disappearance, Suzy Bhaker, the CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, says much more needs to be done to protect women from stalking. She explains why this must be the decade of change .
- UK will have Covid herd immunity by July with life close to normal, scientist claims
- COVID's deadliest day: More than 5,000 died on Thursday as fatalities remain stubbornly high after holiday surge - but experts say they are baffled by 50% drop in new infections with just 8.7% of US vaccinated and NO herd immunity
- UK hits nearly 500,000 Covid vaccinations A DAY as three-quarters of over-80s now jabbed
- Biden makes bullish promise that everyone who 'wants a vaccine will have it in spring': President pledges to vaccinate at least 200m in five months and says 'we can be well on our way to herd immunity by summer'
- What If Herd Immunity Is Out of Reach?
- Government races to reserve 28,000 airport hotel rooms as it reveals quarantine scheme will finally start on February 15, run by retired general - with arrivees from 'red list' countries made to isolate for 11 nights at cost of £800 per person
- UK announces 1,735 new coronavirus cases in biggest surge in three MONTHS as officials confirm 13 more people have died of the disease
- The great vaccine blockade? EU threat to cut off UK's supply of Pfizer jabs will 'poison relations for a generation' as Germans are accused of 'Russian-style' disinformation over 'rubbish' claim that AstraZeneca version is just 8% effective in elderly
- Now Dr. Fauci says UK COVID-19 variant IS more deadly based on 'preliminary data seen by British scientists' and it's already in more than 20 states - but he's more worried about South African strain which makes the vaccine less effective
- Will April 7 be the day Britain vaccinates its way out of lockdown? UK is on course to finish injecting all over-50s on that day – but it could be much SOONER and there are ALREADY hints that Covid vaccine is working in elderly
- Mixing two Covid vaccines could boost immunity and offer BETTER protection, scientists hope
- Fox News White House reporter John Roberts slams 'petty' ABC News colleague Jonathan Karl for trying to 'shame' him for not wearing a mask in the Rose Garden before Trump's press conference
- Piers Morgan calls for 'dithering' Boris Johnson to resign over 'shameful' 100k UK death toll
- Around 15% of Britons are refusing to get their Covid vaccine and uptake is lowest in BAME groups, UK's jab tsar claims
- Passengers arriving in the UK could have to take FOUR coronavirus tests - and pay for them all
- Britain on course to produce another 60million Covid vaccines as UK-based Novavax jab PASSES phase three trial with stunning 90% success rate (including quashing 86% of infections by mutant Kent strain that's ravaged the nation)
- Ministers face calls to add MORE countries to UK borders 'red list' amid fears over importing mutant Covid strains - with alarm that 'quarantine hotels' system still won't be up and running for WEEKS
- Coronavirus infections have plummeted by 30% over the last three weeks while hospitalizations are down 21% - and as many as ONE-THIRD of the US population may have some kind of immunity
- MEPs threaten 'TRADE WAR' with UK over vaccine supplies: EU could withhold 3.5MILLION Pfizer jabs destined for Britain as desperate bloc tells AstraZeneca it must drop 'first come first served' principle - despite NHS ordering three months earlier
- Covid-19 cases FELL in all but four English local authorities last week, PHE data shows - as study finds Oxford vaccine 'blocks two-thirds of transmissions' and it's revealed UK is on track to give ALL adults TWO jabs by the end of August
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