Boris declares war on fat: PM ditches his ‘nanny state’ worries and demands action plan to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis after blaming his severe bout of coronavirus on being overweight
- Being obese doubles risk of needing hospital treatment if you get coronavirus
- Boris Johnson has been left ‘obsessed’ with getting the nation on bicycles
- One in three British adults are now classed as clinically obese
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Boris Johnson is declaring war on fat as he ditches his ‘nanny state’ worries and demands an action plan to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.
Mr Johnson is convinced he had such a tough battle with Covid-19 in part due to being significantly overweight.
He’s told senior advisers that the experience – which he famously said ‘could have gone either way’ – has left him determined to lead a public health drive.
Being obese doubles the risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus, research shows.
Boris Johnson is determined to get Britain cycling, colleagues claim, as he declares war on fat following his brush with coronavirus
And with one in three British adults now clinically obese, the UK has one of the highest rates in the world.
According to The Times, Mr Johnson told some of his colleagues ‘it’s all right for you thinnies’ as he discussed the danger being overweight presents for Covid patients.
Boris Johnson is pictured when he was still suffering the effects of coronavirus
His own weight was 17-and-a-half stone before he went into hospital, putting his BMI at 36 when his 5ft9in height is taken into account and placing him over the BMI of 30 that means a person is obese.
The Prime Minister is determined to use the coronavirus pandemic to get people to be healthier and is said to be ‘obsessed’ with getting people to cycle to work.
His swing toward interventionism follows a long-standing opposition to ‘nanny state’ measures and scepticism about the sugar tax, which he pledged to review, among other ‘sin taxes’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock firmly believes that the sugar tax – brought in back in April 2018 – has been a ‘total triumph’.
As the Government promises to ease the UK lockdown, the Prime Minister is also said to be keen on focusing on moving into a recovery phase for the UK and delivering manifesto promises.
The PM has demanded action be taken on obesity (pictured, a file image an obese male)
He highlighted pledges such as introducing 20,000 more police officers and building 40 hospitals.
‘He was optimistic and focused on the future, on getting back to the levelling up agenda,’ a source said.
Up to 220,000 people in England may have the coronavirus right now, government figures show as a study claims 19 MILLION Brits could have already had the virus without a diagnosis
By Sam Blanchard and Connor Boyd for MailOnline
Up to 222,000 people in England may be infected with the coronavirus right now, according to a government testing survey, while scientists estimate that a third of the population have already had it and recovered.
The first round of random public testing has identified only 33 positive cases of COVID-19 out of a sample of 10,705 people and estimated a national infection level of 0.27 per cent – one in every 370 people.
Eight million patients (one in EIGHT people in England) will be on NHS surgery waiting lists by autumn because of coronavirus delays, think-tank boss warns
More than eight million people will be stuck on NHS surgery waiting lists by autumn because of treatment delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak, experts say.
Last August there were a record 4.41million patients in England on waiting lists for routine operations, a rise of 250,000 from the same month a year earlier.
But that number is expected to more than double because of a backlog triggered by the COVD-19 crisis, according to the chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think-tank.
When officials realised the coronavirus was spreading out of control in the UK they urged hospitals to cancel as many operations as they could and turf out patients on their wards to make way for a surge in COVID-19 patients.
The move was successful and hospitals were not overwhelmed by the effects of the virus but hundreds of thousands of patients have had treatment delayed as a result.
Nigel Edwards, the Nuffield Trust CEO, said hospitals have only been able to carry out around ’15 to 20 per cent’ of elective procedures, meaning up to 1.3million patients are missing out every month.
Even after the NHS gets back up and running after the crisis, social distancing measures, a lack of PPE and new cleaning regimes will slow down the health service further, Mr Edwards said.
It makes it ‘very likely we will have doubled the waiting list to over eight million by the late autumn’, with one in eight people waiting for treatment.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said at today’s Downing Street briefing that the data represented ‘really quite a low level of infection’ in the community.
This suggests that 148,000 people had the virus at any given time between April 27 and May 10, that figure being the middle estimate between a low of 94,000 and high of 222,000. During that time 66,343 people were officially diagnosed.
And the rate of infection is six times higher in healthcare workers and carers than it is in the general population, the survey found. While 1.33 per cent of people who worked in patient-facing roles in hospitals or homes tested positive for the virus, only 0.22 per cent of those with other jobs did so.
Numbers announced today did not include anyone who was tested in a care home or a hospital, where the statisticians said ‘rates of COVID-19 infection are likely to be higher’.
Most official testing, which has picked up a total of 233,151 positive cases over the entire outbreak is being done in hospitals and care homes. But researchers at the University of Manchester have said this is likely huge under-estimate of the number of people who have had the illness already.
Those scientists, who studied the rate of infection in local areas, predicted that 29 per cent of everyone in Britain, more than 19million people, had already caught the infection by April 19, when 73,000 people had been diagnosed.
However, doubts were cast over the accuracy of this by a top scientist because data from other countries shows much lower levels of infection – for example, a study in Spain found evidence of just five per cent of people being infected and even in New York, which was hit worse than the UK, there is no proof that more than a quarter caught the illness.
Britain’s own chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said last week that he thought around four per cent of people in the UK had been exposed so far, rising to 10 per cent exposure in London.
ONS data is soon expected to publish antibody data showing how many people have had the infection already but does not currently have enough data for a reliable estimate.
The current survey, of which this is the first set of data, will be ongoing as part of the government’s ‘test, track and trace’ plan for getting out of lockdown and will be expanded to regular testing in more than 10,000 households.
Its early findings come as the Department of Health today announced 428 more deaths from the coronavirus across the UK, taking the total number of fatalities to 33,614. The real figure is believed to be over 50,000.
In other coronavirus news:
- Public Health England has approved its first commercial antibody test, made by Swiss firm Roche, which tells people whether they have had the virus in the past. It claims to be more than 99 per cent accurate;
- University of Cambridge and Public Health England have estimated variations in the virus reproduction rate around the country – thought to be lowest in London (0.4) and highest in North East (0.8);
- A total of 33,614 people have now died with COVID-19 in the UK, out of a total of 233,151 positive cases. 428 more deaths and 3,446 positive tests were announced today;
- All 100 children who have developed the inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 had been healthy before catching the virus, doctors say;
- April was the quietest ever month in A&E, with NHS hospitals recording fewer than one million visits for the first time ever. Doctors warned people avoiding emergency departments is a ‘ticking time bomb’;
- Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has agreed to put the London Underground timetable back to 75 per cent of normal, but told Boris Johnson he wants £2billion in funding support for Transport for London.
The Office for National Statistics estimates that somewhere between 94,000 and 222,000 people in England currently have the coronavirus, putting their average estimate at 148,000. This represents 0.27 per cent of the population, and means approximately one in every 370 people is carrying the virus
Commuters have this week returned to work after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans on Sunday to start loosening lockdown restrictions (Pictured: People walking through a train station in London decorated in tribute to the NHS)
England’s top statisticians estimate that 0.27 per cent of the population has been infected with COVID-19 on any given day over the past fortnight – equal to around 148,000 people and certainly between 94,000 and 222,000
The data from the ONS showed that people’s age did not appear to have any bearing on how likely they were to be diagnosed with the virus.
It found that approximately 0.32 per cent of people aged two to 19, or 50-69 were infected with the virus, along with 0.26 per cent of 20 to 49-year-olds and 0.23 per cent of over-70s.
CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING FASTEST IN NORTH EAST AND SLOWEST IN LONDON
The coronavirus is infecting people twice as fast in the North East of England as it is in London, data shows.
Research by Public Health England and Cambridge University suggests the crucial reproduction rate, known as the R, is just 0.4 in the capital.
However in the North East and Yorkshire, the R – which simply denotes the average number of people each COVID-19 patient infects – is thought to be hovering at around 0.8.
It is vital that this number – which is thought to have been between 3.5 and 4 at the start of the crisis – stays below 1, otherwise the outbreak will start to rapidly spiral again as people infect others around them at a faster rate.
London was formerly the UK’s coronavirus epicentre and at least two million people are thought to have been infected there, according to estimates.
But the experts say around 15 per cent of residents in the capital have now had the disease already and have built up immunity, which makes it harder for the virus to spread and may explain its low R rate of 0.4.
More white collar jobs in London meant more employees were able to work from home and isolate from others, which also stunts COVID-19’s ability to infect people, epidemiologists say.
The real-time tracking of the R rate is the latest piece of evidence that northern towns are now bearing the brunt of the crisis after the virus was shut out of the capital.
In the Midlands, the value is believed to be 0.68, but in the South West it is thought to be around 0.76.
The PHE and Cambridge researchers say the R is 0.71 in the East of England, 0.73 in the North West and 0.71 in the South East.
The scientists drew from data from death certificates, as well as NHS and PHE coronavirus test results to predict the reproduction number but exactly how they came to their results is unclear.
Government officials say each person who is infected will pass on the virus to between 0.5 and 0.9 other people, showing that its reproduction rate – the R – is below one, so the outbreak is shrinking.
Research by the University of Cambridge and Public Health England suggests the rates of spread vary across the country, slowing to 0.4 in London and speeding up to around 0.8 in the North East. As long as it can be kept below one and the number of cases is low it should be safe to begin to ease lockdown.
The 33 people who tested positive in the ONS survey came from 30 different households, suggesting they either lived alone or most had managed not to infect the people they lived with. It is not known whether they realised they were ill before they got tested.
The same 5,276 households will be tested regularly to watch how the numbers change, and the scheme will be expanded to 10,000 homes in which everyone over the age of two will be asked to take part in swab testing.
If everyone in the country was able to be tested it could be expected that between one in every 250 and one in every 588 people would test positive. It is impossible to be certain because the sample size is small.
‘Our latest estimates indicate,’ the ONS report said, ‘that at any given time during the two weeks from 27 April to 10 May 2020, an average of 148,000 people in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19).’
It added: ‘All estimates are subject to uncertainty, given that a sample is only a subset representation of the wider population. However, confidence intervals provide us with a range of values that we believe contain the unknown true number of cases testing positive for COVID-19 infection.
‘While we estimate that 148,000 people in England would test positive, if we repeated this study many times, 95 per cent of the time the true number of positives would lie between 94,000 and 222,000. This equates to between 0.17 per cent and 0.41 per cent of the target population.’
The figures come as a study from the University of Manchester today claimed nearly one in three Britons has already been infected with the coronavirus.
The first scientific study to analyse case rates at local levels estimated 29 per cent of the UK population had already had the illness by April 19, just 10 days after the peak of fatalities in NHS hospitals.
The academics who led the research said the finding confirms that the majority of sufferers have mild or no symptoms, and are unaware they have been infected.
They calculated rates of infection across the country by using local data and comparing the number of officially diagnosed cases over rolling 10-day periods.
Comparing five days’ worth of cases before a date and then the five days after that date gave the scientists an idea of how widely the virus was spreading, they said, and they compared this to the changeable reproduction rate.
They came up with an estimate that there were 237 unrecorded COVID-19 cases for every one that was diagnosed, and then applied this to the 73,000 official cases by April 19, suggesting more than 17million people were infected.
The analysis suggested unreported community infection was more than 200 times higher than official Government figures. This will have reduced since then because the outbreak is now much slower.
But the scientists say the fact a quarter of Britons may already be immune to the illness provides ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for coming out of lockdown.
Experts believe that at least half the population – potentially around 60 per cent – will need to have recovered from the virus for herd immunity to start to take effect, in which people would be protected by the fact that the virus cannot spread through people who have had it already.
Office for National Statistics data suggests there is no significant difference between infection rates across age groups. It is impossible to draw definitive conclusions, however, because only 33 people tested positive across all ages combined
Lead researcher Dr Adrian Heald, of The University of Manchester, said: ‘COVID-19 is a highly infectious condition. It is very dangerous for a small group of people.
HALF OF BRITONS THINK NORMALITY IS SIX MONTHS AWAY
Almost half of Britons now believe it will take at least six months for normal life to resume, data shows.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) quizzed more than 1,300 people about the impact of coronavirus on British society.
Results revealed 46 per cent of Britons fear it will take half-a-year before life returns to what it was before the pandemic struck.
In contrast, the rate was just 33 per cent among a sample of Brits asked the same question in the week after lockdown was announced on March 23.
The data, published today, also revealed three quarters of Britons are worried about the impact COVID-19 was having on their life.
And it found eight in ten Brits abided by the government’s rules to only leave their home for one form of exercise, medical reasons, shopping, or to work (if they were a key worker).
‘However a much larger group seem to have low or no symptoms and have been unreported. This study tries to provide an estimate of the number of historic infections and gives us all a glimmer of hope that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
‘We show how effective social distancing and lockdown has been. Though this is a tragedy, it could have been far worse.’
The researchers made their estimate after analysing published local authority data in 144 regions in the UK.
This enabled them to calculate the R-value – the average number of people each COVID-19 patient infects – within each local authority area.
They believe each COVID-19 patient infected 2.8 others before the country went into lockdown on March 23.
But they say the reproduction number is now 0.9 or below in every corner of the country thanks to social distancing and the natural consequences of cumulative community infection.
It is vital that this number stays below 1, otherwise the outbreak will start to rapidly spiral again as people infect others around them at a faster rate.
The study, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, was carried out by a team from the University of Manchester, Salford Royal Hospital and analytics company Res Consortium.
Dr Heald, who is also a consultant at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, added: ‘We also demonstrate that like any virus, COVID-19 has taken its natural course and infected a significant percentage of the UK population.
‘The more people that are exposed to this – or any – virus, the less easy it is for further transmission to occur.
‘Government policy can only moderate the impact using measures like widespread testing, social distancing and personal protective equipment.
‘The social and economic impacts of Lockdown have been very difficult. But we believe this analysis may aid policy makers in a smoother transition to reducing social containment and sustainably managing the COVID-19 disease.’
ONLY 4.4% OF FRENCH POPULATION INFECTED
A mere 4.4 per cent of the French population – or 2.8 million people – have been infected by coronavirus, a study led by the Pasteur Institute says.
Published on Wednesday in the journal Science, researchers say the infection rate in the worst-hit parts of France – the eastern part of the country and the Paris region – is between 9 and 10 per cent on average.
‘Around 65 per cent of the population should be immune if we want to control the pandemic by the sole means of immunity’, the study says.
The rate of infection was measured by the Pasteur Institute as of May 11, the day when France started to unwind its almost two-month-long national lockdown.
‘As of a consequence, our results show that, without a vaccine, the herd immunity alone will not be enough to avoid a second wave at the end of the lockdown. Efficient control measures must thus be upheld after May 11’, researchers say.
Herd immunity refers to a situation where enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading.
France’s overall death toll from the virus rose to 27,074 on Wednesday, the fifth-highest in the world, and total number of cases officially stood at 177,700, the seventh-highest total.
The Pasteur Institute also said the lockdown put in place on March 17 in France led to a drastic decline of the coronavirus’ reproduction rate, going from 2.9 to 0.67 over the 55-day virtual standstill of the country.
A Spanish study also published on Wednesday showed similar results, saying about 5 per cent of the country’s population had contracted the disease and that there was no herd immunity in Spain, also emerging progressively for long lockdown.
Dr Heald added: ‘This will allow policy makers to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to pandemic policy.
‘That does not consider the variation in both infection rates and impact across localities.’
Mike Stedman, from Res Consortium, said: ‘Using our experience working with the NHS on improving patient services, we conducted this work in our own time.
‘We felt we could make a valuable contribution to the public and policy makers by calculating the progression in the local and national daily infection rate.
‘The figures are not perfect, with the numbers of severely ill patients as a proportion of the total cases being used as a market for estimates of wider infection.
‘Only extensive antibody testing could give us a more accurate picture. But as that is only just becoming available, we believe this form of modelling is important in informing the best approach to unlocking the population.’
Dr Heald and Mike Stedman argue that incremental lifting of current social restrictions as soon as possible is vital to minimise further damage to the economy and the impact of prolonged social containment.
However, they add, this must be balanced against containing the current pandemic and minimising future waves of infection.
Dr Adam Kucharski, a professor in infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: ‘Given how difficult it is to estimate the extent of unreported cases in a population from reported cases alone, it is likely that there is huge uncertainty in the estimates produced by the model used in this paper, and unfortunately this uncertainty is not reflected in the single value quoted in the paper and the press release.
‘In addition, we now have direct measurements of infection from antibody testing in several countries, and the values found are generally much lower than the one suggested by this modelling analysis.
‘One recent study found 5 per cent had antibodies in Spain overall, another estimated 2 per cent in Luxembourg, another 10 per cent in Geneva.
‘Even in areas that have been severely affected by COVID-19, the proportion of the population with evidence of past infection is so far relatively low: 10 per cent in Wuhan, 10 per cent in London, 11 per cent in Madrid, 14 per cent in Gangelt, Germany; 21 per cent in New York.
‘The only serological study the authors cite is a study from Santa Clara, California, which has received substantial criticism for likely overestimating the actual extent of infection in the population.
‘Given how much antibody data is now emerging, it is increasingly important to focus on measurements rather than just modelling estimates.’
Understanding the number of people who have had the virus in the past can tell scientists more about how deadly it truly is.
Currently, the death rate is unknown because researchers can only compare the numbers of deaths with the number of hospital patients, which will show it to be unrealistically high.
A scientist has warned that around 560,000 people could die from coronavirus if half of Britain gets infected, a leading scientist has warned after results from the government antibody surveillance scheme suggested the virus kills 1.7 per cent of all cases.
Sir Patrick Vallance, Number 10’s chief scientific adviser, revealed recently that around four per cent of Britain and 10 per cent of London has developed antibodies against COVID-19.
The estimate – based on data from antibody testing across the home nations carried out a fortnight ago – means only around 2.64million Brits have had the infection. It also suggests the illness kills around 1.21 per cent of all cases, making it around 12 times deadlier than the flu.
However, the infection fatality rate could be even higher, when the thousands of the UK’s hidden COVID-19 deaths are included in the tally. Estimates on backdated data from the Office for National Statistics suggest at least 45,550 Britons have actually died – a death rate of around 1.73 per cent.
Infectious disease expert Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that based on the predicted death rate of 1.7 per cent, the disease could cause up to 560,000 deaths in the UK, if half of the population was infected.
Other global antibody surveillance samples suggest the coronavirus death rate is much lower, between 0.3 and 0.75 per cent of cases. Those studies suggest between six and 12million people have caught the virus in the UK.
Professor Matt Keeling a populations and disease expert at the University of Warwick, said the British data would currently give a ‘gross over-estimate of the fatality rate’ because it was from so long ago – it was taken before mid-April and would likely only have diagnosed people who were ill weeks before that.
Ministers launched surveillance studies to track the rate of COVID-19 in Britain, with the true size of the outbreak remaining a mystery. Millions of cases have been missed because health chiefs controversially decided to abandon widespread testing early on in the outbreak.
Preliminary data from a separate government surveillance system released in Boris Johnson’s 50-page exit plan yesterday suggested that almost 140,000 people in England currently have the coronavirus.
It comes as other official data released by the Office for National Statistics today show almost 10,000 care home residents have now died of coronavirus in Britain, accounting for a quarter of all the country’s victims.
Death rate continues to drop: UK announces 428 more coronavirus deaths taking Britain’s total official figure to 33,614
Britain’s daily COVID-19 death toll dropped again today as the outbreak continues to slow, as officials announced 428 more victims – the lowest jump on a Thursday since the end of March.
Official figures released by the Department of Health show 33,614 coronavirus patients have now died across all settings in the UK, including hospitals and care homes, since the crisis began.
But the count is known to be inaccurate because it only takes into account lab-confirmed cases. Separate figures suggest Britain’s real death toll – already the highest in Europe – could be in the region of 50,000.
Health chiefs also revealed a further 3,446 Britons have tested positive for COVID-19, meaning the official number of cases recorded in the UK has topped 233,000 – but the real size is also a mystery.
Ministers have no idea about how many people have been struck down since the outbreak began because of the controversial decision to abandon mass-testing before it spiralled out of control.
More than 2,000 people have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon said at her daily briefing, with 34 more announced from the past 24 hours.
Public Health Wales announced a further 10 deaths, totalling 1,164 in the country, and Northern Ireland a further five, equalling 454.
The remaining 379 deaths occurred in England, which include all settings. NHS England announced 207 deaths from hospitals.
Patients were aged between 33 and 100 years old. Six patients, aged between 35 and 95 years old had no known underlying health condition, meaning they were considered healthy before the virus.
Deaths have been very slowly falling over the past few weeks since the peak struck in mid-April, with fewer fatalities reported in hospitals and care homes every day.
The Government death tally only counts people who have tested positive but has been rationing tests for months.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) includes everyone who has COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, regardless of whether they were tested for it.
Figures suggests the true number of coronavirus victims in Britain is likely over 44,000 and almost 40 per cent higher than the Department of Health’s statistics show.
At least 50,000 more people than usual have died in Britain since the coronavirus outbreak began, statistics show, known as ‘excess deaths’.
They take into account not just people who have died of COVID-19 but also those who died without a doctor ever noticing they had the virus, people who died as a result of hospital disruptions, and those who died because of indirect effects of the outbreak.
Office for National Statistics data showed yesterday that 8,315 people have died in care homes in England and Wales with coronavirus listed on their death certificate. But researchers at the London School of Economics suggest this is only around 41 per cent of the total, which could be more like 22,000
ONS has recorded 45,777 more deaths than normal since the beginning of March in England and Wales. Adding data from Scotland and Northern Ireland pushes this total to 50,979, the Financial Times reported.
The backdated ONS data shows almost 10,000 care home residents have died of coronavirus in Britain, accounting for a quarter of all the country’s victims.
Researchers at the London School of Economics suggest care home deaths could be more in the region of 22,000.
The care home scandal continues to flare as politicians rally and question the Government’s response to the outbreak in the early days.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt today condemned the failure to deploy coronavirus tests on patients discharged into care homes.
He insisted checks on patients sent back to care homes was an obvious ‘thing that needed to happen’.
The criticism came after an row between Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson which started at PMQs yesterday.
Sir Keir ambushed Mr Johnson by quoting official guidance that had been in place until March 12 – well after coronavirus had started being transmitted in the UK – that said it was ‘very unlikely’ care home residents would become infected with Covid-19.
Mr Johnson accused the opposition leader of ‘selectively and misleadingly’ citing the document after the bruising exchange.
The document published at the end of February did state it was not likely there would be infections in care homes because, at that stage, there was no evidence of community transmission.
The advice was withdrawn on March 13, by which time there had been 31 coronavirus-related deaths in England, including one in a care home, according to the ONS.
The issue continues to fall back to caps on testing. NHS chiefs have revealed that it was only on April 15 – after the UK outbreak peaked – that enough capacity was in place to test ‘systematically’ everyone discharged from hospital.
Although they say only a ‘very small number’ of asymptomatic patients would have been sent to social care without being checked, the error has been likened to taking death straight into care homes where extremely vulnerable people live.
A Cabinet minister acknowledged the coronavirus crisis in care homes was ‘absolutely terrible’.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘I don’t deny that what is happening in care homes is absolutely terrible. It’s a huge challenge. But we are trying to put as much support as we can around care homes.’
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