Official data today revealed that covid cases began to fall in children before half-term. This was after scientists discovered that they were gaining high natural immunity as a result of the back-to school surge. 

The weekly English national surveillance report showed that cases among 10-19-year-olds declined by more than a tenth, from 1,388 to 1,201 per 100,000 people to 1,388.

It dropped 8.5 percent for 5-9-year-olds (732 to 670 per 100k), while it fell more than six percent for 0-4-year-olds (166 to 156). 

The report also revealed that half of England’s council areas, or 74 of 149, saw their Covid infection levels drop last week, another sign that cases are in decline.

MailOnline analysis indicated that cases began to fall in children earlier than half-term began. Infections peaking on Tuesday last Week, according to MailOnline.

Experts believe this is likely because of the fact that children have developed immunity after the back-to school wave, which saw infections rise to their highest levels since the pandemic.

However, they warned that some children may have been less vigilant about testing for the virus before the holidays. This could be responsible for the drop in infection rates. School children must test for the virus twice per week and report the results to Test and Trace.

Professor John Edmunds, a SAGE scientist and epidemiologist, said this week that the increase in children’s infections will eventually lead to high levels in immunity. This will cause cases to plateau and then fall. He suggested that it may be possible that we are already achieving this.

The above graph shows Covid cases in England by age group. It reveals that infections are now falling among 10 to 19-year-olds (green line, top circle), 5 to 9-year-olds (blue line, second circle) and 0 to 4-year-olds (black line). Cases rose in all other age groups, but the drop in children is a positive sign because it will stop them spreading it to other groups

The graph above shows Covid cases in England according to age. It shows that infections are falling among children aged between 10 and 19 years old (green line, top circle), 5- to 9-years-old (blue line; second circle), and 0 to 4 year-olds. All other age groups saw an increase in cases, but the drop in children is a good sign as it will stop them spreading it.

The above graph shows the Covid infection rate per 100,000 people by regions of England. As many as five out of nine regions saw infections fall in the week to October 24

The graph above shows the Covid infection rate for 100,000 people in England by region. Infections fell in five of the nine regions during the week up to October 24

The graph below shows Covid infection rates per 100,000 English citizens, divided by age. It shows that cases among 5-19-year-olds may be at an all-time high and have begun to decline. However, they were still rising in all age groups.

Officials do not collect data on antibody levels among under-16s. But for those aged 16 to 24-years-old they found 95.6 per cent had antibodies against the virus (top left, green line) despite only 81.4 per cent (top left, blue line) having been vaccinated. Vaccines are now available for 12 to 15-year-olds, but it is likely many already have immunity from past infection

Officials don’t have data on antibody levels in under-16s. However, 95.6 percent of those aged 16-24 years old had antibodies against the virus (top right, green line), despite only 81.4 percent (top left blue line) having been vaccinated. Although vaccines are now available for children aged 12-15 years, it is possible that many people have immunity from previous infections.

The above graph shows the number of lateral flow tests carried out daily. It reveals that over the two weeks before half term the number completed remained similar, at around 550,000 a day

The graph below shows daily lateral flow testing. It shows that the number of lateral flow tests performed daily was approximately 550,000 per day in the two weeks prior to half term. 

Natural infections have almost completely triggered children’s immunity. Vaccines — which are the only other way to get protection against the virus — were only offered to 16 and 17-year-olds in August, and then to 12 to 15-year-olds from September 20.

It comes after daily Covid infections in Britain fell for four consecutive days. SAGE also claims that infections could fall to the 5,000 mark in the coming months, despite No10 granting its demands for virus control measures.

Some scientists, medics, and Labour call for the UK’s departure from its current course and to implement Plan B. This would see face masaks, working from home guidance, and the introduction of vaccine passports.

Why has the number of Covid infections in schoolchildren risen so much? 

Data from the Department of Health suggests that Covid infections among schoolchildren peaked just before half term.

Scientists suggest that this could be due to rising immunity in the age group or a decrease in Covid testing.

Antibody levels 

SAGE scientists suggest that rising antibody levels in children could explain the drop in cases. 

Before children returned to school, no vaccine was given. Only those who have been previously infected with the virus were protected.

After a huge back-to school wave, the number children with Covid fighting antibodies has been increased. This means more children are protected from the virus.

To ensure that more people are protected, the Covid vaccine was also offered to children aged 12-15 years old starting September 20.

However, vaccinations have been slow to take place and the drive has been slow. 

According to figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), around 12 percent of 12- to 15-year olds have been vaccinated to date.

Covid testing

Scientists also suggested that the drop in Covid testing may be responsible for the reported fall in infections in schoolchildren.

Children must swab their skin twice per week for the virus using lateral flow testing and report the results to Test and Trace.

Some believe that the number of tests performed may have fallen ahead of the holidays because people were more comfortable taking them.

However, data from the Department of Health suggests that similar numbers of lateral flow tests were performed in the two weeks preceding half term. They averaged about 550,000 per day.

The holidays saw the majority of England’s schools close for the weekend.

But there is a small group — such as schools in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire — which broke up the previous Monday for two weeks. This may have affected the data. 

No10 has so far remained calm, stating that the NHS is not under a ‘unsustainable’ strain. Whitehall sources claimed that ministers were only 20% likely to impose more curbs amid falling infections.

The UK Health Security Agency — which took over from the now-defunct Public Health England — publishes a weekly report monitoring the spread of Covid and other viruses in the country.

This week’s report showed that Covid cases in the week prior to half-term started were declining among the under-19s, but were still rising in other age brackets.

The drop in the youngest ages is a good sign. It suggests that the virus could soon spread to other age groups.  

The highest incidence of infection in England is among those aged 10-19, followed by 5-9-year-olds and those 40-49 (593 cases per 100,000).

In five of England’s nine areas, the number of covid cases dropped. The Midlands had the largest drops (down 10% to 450.6 per 100), Yorkshire and Humber (down 9.8 to 440.4), and North West (down 7.3% and 427). The highest infection rate was in the South West (665.9) due to a bungled test at a lab that led to many people being falsely told they were not infected.

Department of Health data also shows a decline in Covid cases among kids before the half-term break.

Its seven-day average infection rates in secondary school students aged 10-14 peaked last Tuesday at 1,925.2 per 100,000. It had fallen to 1,814.6 by Friday, the latest available date.

Their infection rate for 15-19-year-olds peaked at 861.3/100,000. However, it dropped to 827.5/100,000. On October 22, it was at 827.5/100,000. It also dropped for 5- to 9-year olds from a peak of 7760.7 on Tuesday to 726 Friday.

MailOnline spoke with Professor Paul Hunter, who said that there was a sign that the number of cases could be falling. The seven-day running average shows that they are still rising, but much slower than they were just a few days ago.

“This is approximately a week before half-term began, so there might be some element in reduced testing for children because they were coming from the school holiday period. 

“So, you have to be cautious about that, however, the basic figures seem to indicate that case numbers have begun to decline among all children under 20.”

Although there is no age breakdown in testing data, the figures suggest that there was not a significant decrease in the number of lateral flows performed over the past two weeks with approximately 550,000 completed each day. Secondary school students in England are required to test for the virus twice per week. 

Professor Hunter was asked if the drop would be sustained. He replied, “I don’t know for sure, but I would think that it probably will.” 

“[But]I wouldn’t bet the house on it if it can be sustained for how long and how deeply it will fall.

Professor Edmunds stated this week on BBC Radio 4’s Today that the consensus among modelers was that the cases would either level off, or begin to fall in the coming weeks.

He said, “That’s because the epidemic over the last few months is really driven by huge amounts of cases among children.” I mean a lot of children. That will eventually lead to high levels immunity in children, and it may be that this is what we are achieving now.

“Achieving” I think is the wrong word. However, it might be that we’re achieving high levels immunity in children because of these extremely high rates of infections we’ve had. This may eventually level off.

Professor Edmunds warned that models shown to ministers may also indicate cases could rise again in spring due waning immunity and a return back to normality.

He said booster doses — currently given to over-50s, healthcare workers and those with underlying conditions — should be dished out as fast as possible to address waning immunity and rising infections.

Professor Edmunds suggested that they should be made available to younger people “in the time”