“We can use Wales as a bellwether of what’s going to happen to the rest of UK" Professor Tim Spector
If Wales is the COVID-19 ‘bellwether’ that some scientists believe it is then we could see an earlier end to the current crisis than has been predicted.
That was the message from Professor Tim Spector, head of the ZOE Symptom Tracker App study, in his latest video update.
He said that the good news was that Welsh COVID rates look like they have peaked and should be starting to fall.
However he warned that overall UK cases are still on the rise and
“I think we can use Wales as a bellwether of what’s going to happen to the rest of the country,” he said. “In London rates are still going up, but the R-value has dropped from 1.4 to 1.1 so that rate of increase isn’t as big as it was”.
But he warned that with one in 40 Londoners currently infected with the virus the risk of spread in the capital was still very high. Meanwhile hospitals in London and the South East are struggling with 40 per cent of patients having COVID.
He noted that areas such as the North which bore the brunt of problems last year were now seeing lower rates.
He predicted that London rates should start to peak in mid-January.
“Where people live means they face very different types of risk.
“So when’s it all going to end? Once we see rates dropping on our daily charts it’s going to take a couple of weeks for that to feed through to NHS admissions.
“If that’s correct and its born out in the rest of the country – in areas that don’t approach the London levels – then I expect we might see an earlier end to this lockdown than has been predicted, which would be great.”
He added that vaccines are the other big story and the ZOE app is now asking people to record if they have had the vaccine and log any side-effects.
It is also tracking whether people who are vaccinated go on to catch COVID in the first few weeks as they are not fully immune.
Finally he urged people to try and stay positive in the face of a “fairly grim” lockdown.
In the last lockdown he said researchers found that a third of people “did worse” in that they put on weight, did not exercise and had poorer diets.
But a third did better and used the time to improve themselves.
He urged people to think how they can get into that improver group by taking exercise, improving their diet and looking after their mental wellbeing.
“Use meditation, yoga, call up a friend – whatever it takes. Help each other out.
“If we do this right we can get something positive out of this mess. And by sticking together I think we can get through this.”
Professor Tim Spector’s video is available here
Information about the ZOE COVID Symptom Study is available here