Bolton’s infections data does not support Boris Johnson's unlocking optimism

Vaccination rates in Bolton are rising with queues seen outside vaccine centres, but the rise in cases may yet scupper the PM's plans for reopening. Credit: PA

I am bemused by Boris Johnson's optimism about the prospects for full unlocking on 21 June, based on the data he says he is seeing.

Because the government's own daily published data is showing worrying trends for the Indian variant.

For example, there were 280 Covid infections reported for Bolton alone yesterday, 10% of the UK total, and as you can see here the trend is steeply upward.

Covid cases by specimen date in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Credit: PHE

That would be less worrying if there was also a steep rise in Covid testing in Bolton. But there isn't.

As you can see here, the ratio of positive test results to tests carried out in Bolton - the positivity ratio - is holding fairly steady at about 7.5.

It is obviously encouraging that there has not been a sharp associated rise in hospitalisations. But it is still relatively early days.

Hospitalisations in Bolton are not rising sharply but this could change. Credit: NHS England

I think the important point is NOT that we already know that the unlocking on Monday was a mistake or that it would be unwise to unlock further on 21 June.

It is that there is nothing yet in the data to back up the PM's claim that trends are moving in a benign direction and we can broadly breathe a sigh of relief.

It is too early to draw conclusions, and infections data is not encouraging.

Though if you want a trend that looks good for Bolton, it is that vaccination rates are rising.

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