The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England has fallen again, but an expert has warned that the rate of decline in the UK could be slowing down.
A total of 179,748 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to August 4, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is down 5% on the previous week and the second consecutive week-on-week fall.
Figures published last week saw the numbers fall for the first time in almost three months.
According to separate data from the Zoe Covid Study, there are currently 45,911 new daily symptomatic cases of the virus in the UK on average, based on PCR and lateral flow test data from up to five days ago.
While this is a fall from the 46,905 figure reported last week, researchers said the fact that the decrease is small suggests the rate of decline has slowed.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the study and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “The decrease in cases that we saw last week appears to have faltered over the last few days, and we’re seeing signs of an uptick.
“However, it’s too early to say if this is a start of another steep increase like the one we saw in July.
“While it’s reassuring to see loosened restrictions haven’t caused cases to skyrocket, it’s more difficult to predict the future. Cases remain relatively low in the fully vaccinated group, which is a sign that vaccines are working and keeping the spread at bay.”
He said their research has recently observed a “slight increase” in cases in the over-60s who were vaccinated a while ago, adding: “This could be due to waning immunity and we’re keeping a close eye on the performance of vaccines over time.”
The Government is awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on a booster jabs rollout, which could start as early as next month.
Experts said they are still assessing data before they confirm whether all over-50s and the clinically vulnerable will need a third jab.
The Zoe data is based on reports from around one million weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests.
Researchers said the latest figures were based on data from 25,767 recent swab tests carried out between July 24 and August 7.