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Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United Kingdom (UK) - Statistics & Facts

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China at the end of December 2019, and presently over 513 million cases have been reported across the world. The disease is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2). COVID-19, on the most part, induces flu-like symptoms in the person who catches the disease, while in critical cases the virus can develop into severe pneumonia. The virus has been responsible for over 6.2 million deaths worldwide. The outbreak was officially declared a pandemic in March 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Current situation

On January 31, 2020, the first two COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom (UK) were confirmed in a facility in Newcastle upon Tyne in the Northeast of England, after two members of the same family became unwell in York. The number of cases in the UK first rose significantly in March 2020, but the largest increase was seen in winter 2021/22. The UK is currently the third-worst affected country in terms of cases in Europe. The South East of England is the most severely affected region of the UK, followed by London and then the North West. There have so far been over 175 thousand deaths due to coronavirus in the UK, and the UK has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in western Europe. In late-November, the Omicron variant was discovered and recorded in the United Kingdom. This variant caused concern among experts due to increased transmission of the virus, however the variant may produce milder symptoms especially among people who are fully vaccinated.

The UK vaccination campaign

On December 2, 2020, the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The American-German cooperation was found to have a 95 percent efficacy in clinical trials, and the UK ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine in November 2020. The immunization rollout commenced on December 8, 2020, with the first eligible patients being inoculated amid great media interest. The first to receive the vaccine were care home residents, individuals aged over 80, and frontline health and social care workers; before being rolled out to the rest of the population. As of April 27, 2022 approximately 53.2 million people in the UK had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. In winter 2021, booster vaccinations were given out to increase the protection provided by the first two doses and to try combat rising case numbers in the run-up to Christmas. Over 39.2 million people in the UK had received a booster vaccine by April 27, 2022.

Criticism over government’s handling of crisis in the first wave

The low supply of some items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers on the front line made headlines in the UK during the first wave in cases and hospitalizations. In April 2020, a survey of British doctors working in high-risk areas, such as intensive care or emergency departments, found that over 32 percent had experienced shortages of scrubs, and 30 percent reported to be lacking long-sleeved disposable gowns. Furthermore, one tenth of British doctors said they did not feel safely protected from the coronavirus in their place of work. This lack of PPE for medical professionals, and the perceived delays in locking down the country in March 2020 amounted to a low approval rating for the UK government’s coronavirus response. A Statista survey found that Brits were much less satisfied with their government’s response than Germans were with their respective government. Furthermore, the majority of Brits perceived Germany’s handling of the crisis much better than their own country. Although, Brits did believe that the coronavirus situation was managed significantly better in the UK compared to the United States under the Trump administration.

Well-being of Brits through the pandemic

As the pandemic has progressed, there has been a noticeable shift in the number of Brits who are actively practicing better hygiene in an attempt to protect themselves and others from the virus. A significant share was now also avoiding touching objects in public, and the majority of the Brits believe all large sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings should remain cancelled in the country while the coronavirus remains uncontained. The well-being of the British population has suffered hugely during the pandemic and the dent that the crisis has made on all parts of society, as of November 2020, over half of adults in Great Britain reported their well-being had been adversely affected by COVID-19.

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