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UK records 315 more Covid-19 deaths and 6,385 cases as infections continue to fall

<p>The number of Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals has fallen below 10,000</p>

The number of Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals has fallen below 10,000

/ AP
03 March 2021

he UK has recorded 315 more Covid-19 deaths - bringing the total to 123,783.

The number is a drop of 28 on Tuesday’s figure and the lowest Wednesday total since October 28.

The latest figures released on Wednesday also show another 6,385 coronavirus cases were recorded over the last day. That is around a third lower than the 9,938 cases recorded on the same day last week. It brings the total cases over the last seven days to 50,208 - more than 31% down on the previous week.

It provides fresh evidence that the sharp drop off in Covid infections is continuing. It comes as separate figures revealed on Wednesday that the number of patients with the coronavirus in UK hospitals has fallen to under 10,000 for the first time since November.

There were 9,594 coronavirus patients in hospital in England as of 8am on Wednesday March 3, the first time it has dropped below 10,000 since November 1 when there were 9,623.

It is also a week-on-week drop of 26% from the 13,007 coronavirus patients in hospital in England on February 24 and a 72% drop from the peak of 34,336 coronavirus patients in hospital on January 18.

Meanwhile European countries were today urged to "get on" with using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in elderly people to save lives, as a new study found that a single dose gives remarkable protection.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, presented new research on people over the age of 80 which found that one shot of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford vaccine prevented severe disease that would lead to hospital admission.

Urging other countries to use their stocks of the Oxford jab, the member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) told a briefing: "The UK is well forward, this age group have been immunised now, we're down into people in their 60s, we've achieved 90% uptake.

"In the short term, the job's done in the UK.

"But there are lots of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine available in European countries, and they are not being given to people over the age of 65, in some cases in countries over the age of 55, for lack of data.

"Well, here are the data. There are data from Public Health England and Scotland and now from us, showing that you can save lives in elderly people by giving them a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

"And those countries need to get on and start doing that as fast as possible."

The French government has said people aged 65 to 74 with pre-existing conditions can now get the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, having previously said a lack of data meant it should be restricted to under-65s. Several EU countries are still limiting it to the under-65s, including Germany.

The new study led by Prof Finn, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, involved elderly adults with pneumonia, Covid or another acute respiratory infection admitted to University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT).

It included 466 adults over 80, many of whom had other health problems and with around 90% regarded as frail.

The findings showed that one dose of Pfizer was 79.3% effective from 14 days after inoculation at preventing illness severe enough to require hospital admission.

Looking at the same time period, a single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was 80.4% effective against the same level of illness in the same group, also from 14 days after vaccination.

Prof Finn said the study had been carried out in a different way from that released this week by PHE, but had found very similar results.

The PHE study found that both jabs reduced the chance of needing hospital treatment by more than 80% among the over-80s.

"I think what this does is provide confidence in the results overall," Prof Finn said.

"I think their results confirm ours and our results confirm theirs."

He said he expects the effectiveness to be even higher in younger age groups, and for the protection in all groups to be sustained until people get their second dose.

Commenting that the vaccines seem to work better against severe disease than mild disease, he added: "The broad message is that all of the studies are showing that both of these vaccines are really doing what we wanted them to do in the first place, which is to stop people coming into hospital and dying."

Dr Catherine Hyams from the University of Bristol, who worked on the study which is due to be published in The Lancet, said: "Despite the frailty and age of these patients, one dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca is remarkably effective at reducing hospital admission and se