Deaths are currently just one sixteenth of the level seen during similar infection rates in previous Covid waves, the latest figures show.

The most recent data show that, despite a rise in case numbers, the seven-day rolling daily death rate is just 40 compared to 654 on Dec 26 when the seven-day case rate was close to the current rate of 45,000 new infectious per day.

Death rates in England and Wales are currently 5.2 per cent below the five-year average, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with Covid now accounting for just 1.2 per cent of deaths.

Covid positive deaths, England

Hospital admissions are a quarter of where they were at the same point in the winter wave, while the number of patients in hospital is one fifth of the level then.

On Sunday, ahead of Monday’s "Freedom Day", Prof Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, said that if case numbers could be kept below 100,000 a day and admissions at 1,000, he would consider the release a success. The seven-day rolling number of admissions is currently 616 per day.

The release also coincides with the school summer holidays and hot weather, which is expected to help keep cases down.

Covid positive patients in hospital, England

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Prof Ferguson said: "“Success would be keeping hospitalisations at around 1,000 and case numbers, maybe peaking a little over 100,000 a day and then slowly declining.

"It is likely to be a slow decline because we will be seeing contract rates increase with this relaxation, and yet we’re still vaccinating people, people are getting immunity through being infected as well.

"We have the relaxation on Monday, but significantly we also have school holidays. We’ve seen a lot of transmission among teenagers, and those contact rates will probably tick down."

The most recent data from the King’s College Zoe app, which has been monitoring symptomatic Covid since the beginning of the pandemic and tends to track ahead of official figures, suggests cases are plateauing. 

Weekly PCR tests results show that new daily symptomatic cases in unvaccinated people have decreased by 22 per cent from 22,638 last week, which experts said suggested the wave in the unvaccinated population had peaked.

Positive covid tests, England

Although the app showed there has been a 40 per cent increase in the vaccinated populations, the team believes the Covid ‘R’ value in the UK is now at one. 

Tim Spector, the lead scientist on the app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: "Whilst the figures look worrying, it’s important to highlight that vaccines have massively reduced severe infections and, post-vaccination, Covid is a much milder disease for most people.

"We are seeing the overall incidence rates plateau in the UK with an ‘R’ value of 1.0, which is good news. But the rate of decline may be slower this time, as many of the restrictions in place previously will end."

The latest data also show that the percentage increase in seven-day case rates has fallen dramatically in recent weeks, with cases currently increasing at 24 per cent per week, compared to 74 per cent at the end of last month.

On Sunday, the Government announced that every adult in Britain has been offered a first dose of a Covid vaccine, with 87.8 per cent of the population having taken up the chance of protection. More than two thirds of the adult population has also now had both doses. 

Analysis from PHE and the University of Cambridge suggests vaccines have so far prevented an estimated 11.8 million infections and almost 37,000 deaths in England alone.

On Sunday, Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, said this was the best time to release, adding: "Now does seem to be the logical moment to do that, despite the fact that there is a significant prevalence of the virus in society, for a number of reasons.

"Firstly because we’re about to go into the school holidays, which will mean that transmission among the young and families will be more controllable, secondly because the weather is better in the summer and we’re experiencing extremely good weather right now, so the climate is the most benign, we’re likely to have."