Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s statement that 179 COVID deaths a day are “mercifully low” has sparked criticism from COVID-19 experts. Government statistics show 52,009 people tested positive for COVID-19, and the true number of people with the virus is thought to be close to 100,000.

This follows Javid’s warning this week that cases may reach as high as 100,000 a day in winter. The British Medical Association (BMA) has accused the Health Secretary of being “willfully negligent”.

Javid has encouraged booster jabs to avoid the implementation of winter restrictions, stating its purpose is “not just to save lives, but to keep your freedoms too”.

The steep rise in cases and deaths on Tuesday increased calls for the implementation of Plan B measures. On Wednesday over 49,000 new cases were reported. The UK also currently faces 1000 hospitalisations a day. Health leaders have warned that the UK risks a fourth wave unless tougher measures are enacted now.

A total of 45,000,000 in the UK have have received their second vaccine dose, 79% of those eligible. Around 8 million people are currently eligible for their COVID booster jabs. 50% of those aged 80 and over have received this booster dose, in contrast with only 8.3% of 65 to 69-year-olds. Ministers are reportedly considering whether to cut the interval between booster jabs and a second dose of COVID-19 vaccines from six months to five, following the increase in cases this week.

Statistics from September to October suggest that unvaccinated individuals over the age of 50 are almost five times as likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 that fully vaccinated individuals. The government continues to reject calls from doctors and NHS organisations to implement a ‘Plan B’ for winter.