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 111 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 2.4 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 and again at the end of 2020 as a new, more contagious variant of the virus was identified. The UK is currently the second worst affected country in terms of cases in Europe, but has had the third highest number of cases in the past two weeks. London is the most severely affected region of the UK, followed by the North West and then the South East. There have so far been 120,757 deaths due to coronavirus in the UK, and the UK has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe.

The UK begins vaccinations

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 has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine. The immunization rollout commenced on December 8, with the first eligible patients being inoculated amid great media interest. The first to receive the vaccine will be care home residents, individuals aged over 80, and frontline health and social care workers. The government aims to vaccinate the majority of people in risk groups in the first quarter of 2021. As of February 14, 2021 approximately 15 million people in the UK had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination required two injections around 21 days apart, which apart from logistical difficulties introduces a further challenge to the NHS as it embarks on its largest ever immunization program.

Criticism over government’s handling of crisis

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 initial surge in cases and hospitalizations. In April, 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 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.

Impact of coronavirus

In the wake of the pandemic, the projected GDP growth rate was predicted to fall by over ten percent in 2020. Furthermore, on March 12, 2020, the FTSE 100 suffered its biggest crash since ‘Black Monday’ in 1987. After the crash, the FTSE 100 continued to descend before plateauing during the summer months as the country started to open up. Global oil prices dropped dramatically during the first wave of the virus as worldwide demand for oil declined, and it was estimated that it may be 2022 before demand returns to pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, it was forecasted that retailers across the whole of the EU suffered over 3.2 billion pounds in lost revenue in the spring.

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 has been adversely affected by COVID-19.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United Kingdom (UK)

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