The increasing numbers of people being hospitalised by Covid-19 ought to be a warning to those who argue that the virus is essentially “over”.
NHS England data shows that more than a thousand people are being treated on wards for the first time since the beginning of May.
There are 1,030 hospitalised patients overall, with 216 in intensive care—despite 154 people being discharged in the last seven days. That’s a 22 percent increase over the previous seven-day period.
The figures are especially worrying because the recent peak in the numbers of people testing positive is as yet unlikely to have turned into people with severe symptoms.
There has been a nearly 40 percent rise in the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the most recent seven-day period compared to the week before. It generally takes two weeks between initial infection and the onset of severe Covid-19.
The now dominant Delta variant carries a risk of needing an admission around twice that of the older “Kent variant”. That means we can expect the number of people in hospital to go on rising in the coming days and weeks.
The bad news comes just as pressures on health workers are becoming unbearable. The much hoped for “summer lull” in all types of admissions has instead turned into the opposite—a big increase in the number of sick patients.
That is causing some people to have to wait for up to 12 hours to see A&E emergency doctors.
But these dangers don’t seem to be what is worrying the hapless health secretary Matt Hancock.
Having last week challenged Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former top adviser, to come up with evidence of his alleged pandemic failings, Hancock has now got his wish.
Boris Johnson called Hancock “Totally fucking useless”.
Cummings today posted more details of the incompetence of both the prime minister and the health secretary.
His evidence shows that Boris Johnson had considered removing all responsibility for the provision of protective PPE equipment from Hancock, and calling him in a text, “Totally fucking useless”.
For his part, the prime minister is said to have told “rambling stories and jokes” during emergency pandemic meetings, when he should have been asking officials tough questions about how to respond to the crisis.
The former top aide also alleges that Johnson intends to resign after the next election so that he can concentrate instead on making more money.
It should be clear that Britain is in a dangerous new stage of the pandemic, despite the vaccination programme, and that much is at stake.
Fear of more virus failures this week drove Johnson to abandon his plans for a “freedom day” end to all coronavirus restrictions that was due for next week.
But already forces within government are saying the four-week delay in lifting infection prevention measures will end on schedule—no matter how bad virus infections are in July.
That shows that the Tories remain obsessed with the one thing that has guided them all the way through the pandemic—that the profit machine must not be stopped.