Assess and triage (resilience phase)

The UK has suffered 627 deaths per million inhabitants, ranking it the 8th hardest hit country in the world out of 150 countries recorded as of 16th September.1

New cases:3

  • The daily confirmed figures for coronavirus cases have shown a significant jump in early September.
  • The UK is now seeing four times as many cases on average as it was in mid-July.
  • With the impact of the return of schools still to be seen - not to mention the re-opening of universities next month - fears are growing that cases and then deaths could start spiralling.
  • The rise has been laid firmly at the door of young people. Around half of new cases in recent weeks have been diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s.

Return of restrictions:4

  • England and Scotland are reducing the amount of people allowed to meet socially to six, amid a rise in coronavirus cases.
  • The new limit of six people from multiple households will apply to social gatherings from 13/09.
  • It will apply to both indoors and outdoors, and to all ages.
  • Gatherings in private homes, venues like pubs and restaurants, and in outdoor spaces like parks will all be affected.
  • Until now, the rules have allowed up to 30 people from two households, or six from multiple households, to meet outdoors.
  • Additionally, planned sports pilot events will be limited to smaller, safer numbers, with strict conditions to ensure social distancing, and will not take place in areas where incidence is high.

Stabilize and emerge (recovery phase)

Signs of economic recovery:4

  • Although the infection rate has now increased, it’s important to note that, over the summer, the UK economy showed steady growth.
  • It grew 6.6% in July on a monthly basis, according to initial estimates published Friday, as it sought to recover from the sharp downturn caused by coronavirus-induced lockdown measures.
  • UK GDP in July was 18.6% higher than its April 2020 low, but remained 11.7% compared to the same period last year, slightly below expectations of an 11.4% contraction.
  • The country’s emergence from lockdown measures and reopening of pubs and restaurants in recent months meant that activity in the accommodation and food services sector surged 140.8% month-on-month in July.

Oxford University to resume vaccine trial:5

  • Trials of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will resume after being paused due to a reported side effect in a patient in the UK.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly 180 vaccine candidates are being tested around the world but none has yet completed clinical trials.
  • Hopes have been high that the vaccine might be one of the first to come on the market, following successful phase one and two testing.
  • Its move to Phase three testing in recent weeks has involved approximately 30,000 participants in the US as well as in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Phase three trials in vaccines often involve thousands of participants and can last several years.

Back to school:6

  • UK pupils have returned to school amid concerns that the country may have suffered a ‘brain drain’ during the lockdown.
  • A poll of nearly 3,000 school leaders and teachers found 98% said students had not made as much progress in their learning as would normally be expected.
  • Many students were expected to learn at home, but teachers said only 38% returned their last piece of work in July, compared to 42% in May.
  • The National Foundation for Educational Research's survey found that teachers had on average covered 66% of the year's curriculum by July.

Adapt and rethink (new reality)

The Brexit-Covid coalition:7

  • A simultaneous no-trade deal Brexit and coronavirus pandemic are now clearly possible and likely to have serious economic consequences.
  • Cabinet ministers had privately hoped in early summer that the coronavirus crisis backdrop would help make post-Brexit trade discussions easier.
  • European ministers had acknowledged that the economic consequences of the pandemic, with a temporary loss of 10-20% of the economy, had put the smaller shock of a new set of border trading arrangements into context.
  • That reading appears optimistic right now. The EU has compromised slightly over its negotiation red lines, especially on state aid, but that is yet to open up a clear path to a deal.

Drone grocery deliveries:8

  • A Tesco drone delivery trial will see small items dropped off at customers' homes within 30 minutes of ordering.
  • They can deliver up to 4kg of shopping - in a cargo cassette lowered from the drone - a mile away in three minutes.
  • The company supplying the drones had planned a takeaway food delivery trial in March but changed its focus to medicines during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • It now delivers prescriptions and other essential supplies.

Govtech Catalyst:9

  • The GovTech Catalyst uses a GBP 20 million fund to pay suppliers (typically UK SMEs) to solve public sector problems using innovative digital technology.
  • The public sector propose complex problems that up to five suppliers are funded to work on for three months. If results are promising, up to two of those suppliers will continue to work on it for a year.
  • Phase one, which was completed in June, was successful, with all teams developing prototypes despite restrictions resulting from the pandemic.
  • Prototypes include improving social care, reducing loneliness, improving recycling, protecting firefighters, and detecting illegal substances in parcels.
  • Following the success of phase one, phase two was initiated over the summer with the release of GBP 1 million to each of the public sector teams.