Even a month later by February 19 Covid-19 daily deaths stood at 407, four times higher than the five-year average of influenza and pneumonia deaths of 107 at the same time of year.

The ONS data also reveals the extent to which the spread of Covid-19 has now been brought to heel, with the country’s top epidemiologists claiming the coronavirus has moved to manageable ‘endemic’ levels. 

Last week Sarah Walker, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford University and chief investigator of the ONS’s Covid-19 Infection Survey, told the Telegraph that Britain had “moved from a pandemic to an endemic situation”, where the virus is circulating at a low, controllable rate. 

Similarly, UK scientific advisers have previously warned that the UK is unlikely to eradicate Covid-19 completely even with the vaccine, with the disease instead coming to more closely resemble the flu. 

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, told MPs in October: “Clearly as management becomes better and you get vaccination, that would decrease the chance of infection and severity of disease, and this starts to look more like annual flu than anything else and that may be the direction we end up going.

“Even with a vaccine, this is something we’re going to need to manage.”

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