8th November data update

Key points (see below for full sourcing and more detail):

  • The big news this week is there has been authoritative criticism of the government’s presentation of estimates about the evolution of the pandemic over the coming months (one slide from which was included in last week’s update), by e.g. Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, a non-executive board member at the UK Statistics Authority, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It has been a mess, it really has. All those graphs that got put up at the press conference last Saturday, the projections were out of date at the time, they’re definitely out of date. That one [the slide about 4,000 deaths] was really ghastly – that was out of date when shown. It was never meant to be part of any formal document. It was leaked early and then it was part of the briefing to MPs. He said projections did have some “validity” but needed to be “taken with extreme caution”, as they could often be out of date by the time they were shown.”
  • Spiegelhalter added “If this is going to go down, it is going to go down very slowly unless some dramatic action is taken, which has been taken. The point is we are getting about 20,000-25,000 positive tests a day, that feeds through to about 1,500 hospitalisations a day, about 250-300 deaths a day and these are broadly stable but going up a bit – the deaths in hospitals and hospitalisations are going up slowly – and we are coming into winter. Those sorts of levels, even if they stay very stable and below the first peak of the virus, unless they start dropping, we are stuck with those for months and it seems to me and others that that’s not going to be sustainable in terms of what the health service can deal with … so it can stay open for everyone else.” (Read a Guardian article covering Spiegelhalter’s comments, and their article “How UK government misrepresented Covid projections – explained” – which crucially notes that “The upper limit of this projection has since been revised down to 1,000 deaths a day, which would be in line with the first wave peak. However, the central projection remains the same in the new version, which predicts that there could be about 800 deaths a day by December.”)
  • There have so far been 155 positive test results associated with someone living in Stroud district providing a specimen in the week up to the 6th November.
  • These are some of the 667 positive test results returned so far across Gloucestershire this week.
  • 2,072 people from Gloucestershire tested positive in October, nearly 5 times as many as in September. The number of tests conducted will have increased – but certainly not by 5 times, during that period. Nationally (the only level where we can check this data, the number of Pillar 1 (hospital) and 2 (community) tests that were conducted in October (8,176,343) is not even twice as many as in September: it is 1.28 times as many.

Nationally,

  • Across the UK, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals at midnight 2nd November was 12,379. A rise of 2,817 (30%) since midnight on the 26th Oct (26th Oct was 9,562). For comparison, at the peak on 12th April 19,849 patients in hospital.
  • Testing data shows: “At the lowest point – at the end of July – just 0.4% of people tested were testing positive, but the proportion testing positive is now over 5% (1 in in every 20 people tested) – 8.3% of people tested on November 4th, tested positive.”

ONS data shows:

Globally,

  • Over 50 million people have been confirmed to have SARS-COV-2 – though this will not include people who have not been tested.
  • Nearly 33 million people have been deemed to have recovered – a figure that is also a significant understimate, but may not take into account post-viral symptoms (“long-Covid”).
  • 1.25 million people have died with Covid-19 attributed as at least part of the cause.
  • 55,342 people died in the most recent week – the highest weekly total so far.

Local

There have been 155 positive test results associated with someone living in Stroud district providing a specimen in the week up to the 6th November. However, this figure will not include recent tests – specimens will still be being process. In short, the 94 positives I reported for the week before has risen to 159 since remaining specimens submitted in that week have been processed. You can see on the chart what a significant rise there has been in Stroud district recently.

While data is not available for Stroud district on the number of tests done, this rapid rise in positive results cannot be explained purely by an increase in testing – particularly given increased testing took place from May till July and didn’t identify such a trend. More people are testing positive because there are more people who are infected with the virus. It is clear from the charts below that this pattern is occuring across Gloucestershire, the South West, England and the UK – and where data is available it confirms the proportion of tests that return positive results is rising, again indicating the rise is not a function of higher numbers of tests being done.

Source: gov.uk data download

In the most recent week in Gloucestershire there have been 667 positive test results returned so far. This figure will rise as new results are reported. For the previous week, the number rose from 307 to 719 and may still rise as results are processed. Across the county the number of positive test results is over ten-times where it was in mid-September, let alone in June-August.

Source: gov.uk data download

We should now have all the data for specimens submitted for testing in October, with 2,072 people from Gloucestershire testing positive, nearly 5 times as many as in September, and 15 times the number from August. The number of tests conducted will have increased – but certainly not by 5 let alone 15 times, during that period. Nationally (the only level where we can check this data, the number of Pillar 1 (hospital) and 2 (community) tests that were conducted in October (8,176,343) is not even twice as many as in September: it is 1.28 times as many. Nationally and for the South West, we know the proportion of tests that return positive results is rising. In short, there is no reason to believe that the number of tests explains the rising number of positive results – and every reason to believe the reason more people test positive is because more infections are being spread.

Comparisons with March and April are included in the chart below in a different colour – as all of those cases were hospitalised, while since May testing has been for “anyone with symptoms” (and people’s contacts) – in an effort to control the spread of the virus and limit hospitalisations and deaths (see below for data on hospitalisations and deaths). We know even the current testing system does not catch everyone with the virus, but the numbers for March and April are certainly a huge underestimate as – unlike now – they did not include people with mild symptoms.

Source: gov.uk data download

There is a new version of the government’s interactive map which shows weekly cases at a more localised scale than districts (an alternative map shows this as dots)

In the most recent week of data, this shows, in Richard Bedford’s summary:

“Within Stroud District, case numbers last week were greatest in Minchinhampton & Amberley (23), followed closely by a number of areas reporting around 18-19 cases including Chalford & Bussage (18).
It is too soon to see any impact in the figures from the latest lockdown intervention, but the growth rate suggests that lockdown now is better than no lockdown. Arguably a couple of weeks ago would have been better still but we are where we are.
Hopefully if we take this lockdown seriously as we did the first and comply as fully as we can then perhaps we will see a slight reduction in next week’s data.
The daily data is showing some sign of a slight levelling off so there is a glimmer if improvement there. Especially numbers in S Gloucestershire have declined slightly. 
As regards Swindon area, similar to S Gloucs with some sign of a slight levelling off.”

The below chart is from data compiled by Richard Bedford for the different parts of Stroud district. The short story is that positive test results are coming in from all parts of the district, rising in many.

Positive test results by MSOA (parts of Stroud district) for the most recent week are as follows

  • 23 – Michinchimhamptom & Amberley
  • 19 – Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood
  • 18 – Dursley
  • 18 – Chalford & Bussage
  • 16 – Nailsworth
  • 13 – Upton St Leonards & Hardwicke
  • 10 – Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe
  • 9 – Ebley & Randwick
  • 7 – Stonehouse
  • 6 – Stroud Town
  • 6 – Rodborough & Thrupp
  • 6 – Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington
  • 5 – Berkeley & Sharpness
  • 4 – Leonard Stanley & Uley
  • 3 – Cam

The highest number of people testing positive per MSOA in Gloucestershire in the past week was Matson & Robinswood – the chart below from the government’s interactive map shows a number of areas in and near Stroud district with high numbers of positive test results per 100,000 people over the past 7 days.

Richard Bedford has also pulled together the data for areas within Stroud district, and crated a chart upon which the below chart is based. It is hard to read this for each individual area – but the broad point is that positive test results are now coming in from around the district, and broadly rising in each part of the district.

As across the country, the number of people admitted to hospital or diagnosed with Covid-19 in hospital is increasing.

The most recent data shows 43 people with Covid-19 in Gloucestershire hospital beds (3rd November), more than double the 19 the week previously (27th October). You can see that were were many days in September where there were no Covid-19 patients occupying beds locally, but a steady – and then more dramatic – recent rise (the chart below show “the number of beds containing confirmed COVID-19 patients (as at 08:00)”).

Source: NHS Covid-19 Hospital Activity
  • 587 people from Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, as of data to week 43 (23rd October). Two people had their deaths registered in week 42 – both from Gloucester. One died at home and one in hospital.
  • 92 people from Stroud district have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. No-one from Stroud distrist has died with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate since week 24 (ending 12th June).

National

The below chart shows that the daily number of new Covid-19 deaths continues to rise in the UK. The chart is interactive, so you can change how it displays and add countries for comparisons.

Ths is a chart showing the proportion of tests in the UK that are positive. The chart shows how:

  • At the lowest point – at the end of July – just 0.4% of people tested were testing positive, but the proportion testing positive is now over 5% (1 in in every 20 people tested) – 8.3% of people tested on November 4th, tested positive.

While data on the numbers of tests or share of tests that are positive isn’t available for Stroud or Gloucestershire specifically (at least so far), a chart below shows the same thing but for the South West.

* The proportion of “Pillar 2” tests (conducted for people in the community) that returned positive results across the South West was 6.6% in the most recent week (to 29th October) – rising from a low of 0.3% in mid-July.

* The proportion of “Pillar 1” tests (conducted for people in hospital) that returned positive results across the South West was 3.3% in the most recent week (to 29th October) – rising from a low of 0.1% in August.

Source: PHE spreadsheet as part of weekly Covid-19 and flu surveillance

Across the UK, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals at midnight 2nd November was 12,379 ( 26th Oct was 9,562 (this has since risen to 10,918). A rise of 2,817 (30%) since midnight on the 26th Oct. For comparison, on the 27th March – the earliest data for comparable data, there were 7,043 patients, and at the peak on 12th April 19,849 patients in hospital – in other words, hospitals already have over half as many COVID-19 patients in them as at the previous peak.

Each week, the ONS does a testing survey. This goes out like other survey work it isn’t based on symptoms or people seeking a test. This week (6th November they say:

  • “The infection rate has increased in recent weeks, but the rate of increase is less steep compared with previous weeks”
    “an estimated 618,700 people (95% credible interval: 583,100 to 655,000) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 25 to 31 October 2020, equating to around 1 in 90 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 95 to 1 in 85).” (up from last week’s “an estimated 568,100 people (95% credible interval: 536,500 to 600,400) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 17 to 23 October 2020, equating to around 1 in 100 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 100 to 1 in 90).”)
  • Read more about the ONS methdology.

International

As of the 1st November,

  • Over 50 million people have tested positive for SARS-COV-2 (50,246,842)
  • The UK is one of 9 countries to have identify over 1 million cases. The US is close to identifying 10 million positive results (9,926,622)
  • 1.25 million people have died (another 55,342 people in the most recent week – the highest weekly number so far)
  • Over 32 million people have been deemed to have recovered (32,895,759), with nearly 2 million added to this figure in the past week (1,969,099). This figure is likely an underestimate, just as confirmed cases is an underestimate of the number of people to have had the virus – as not everyone has had a test. Also, not all countries keep a track of ‘recoveries’ or do so fully – the UK government for instance only indicates 2,968 people have recovered (154 more than last week), but this is obviously well below the true number of people to have had the virus but survived. However, these numbers may also fail to take “post-viral” symptoms aka “long-covid” into account.
  • There are now 22 countries where over 10,000 people have had their deaths attributed at least in part to Covid-19. In nine of these the number of people to die in the most recent week was higher than the number of people who died in the week before.
  • Above data is from John Hopkins University.

The chart below compares cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people for selected countries as of the 17th October. Peru has the highest rate at over 1,000 people per million (or more than 1 in every 1,000 people). The UK is among the countries with the highest rates per million people: 720 – now higher than the US (716) and Italy (679). There are a number of countries with very low rates: Taiwan (0.29), Vietnam (0.36) and Thailand (0.85) have extremely low rates (and have opened up much more fully than the UK ever has as a result). Rates that are much lower than those in the UK can also be found in other countries in Europe, though even Sweden (596), Germany (135), Greece (71) and Finland (65) have done badly compared to the countries with the lowest rates.

You can compare different countries, and see trends over time, using the OurWorldInData website.

Notes

These updates are designed to improve understanding of the pandemic and its impacts, with the hope this can help us to reduce those impacts locally. I appreciate they do not involve space to properly convey the full impact of the virus nor the restrictions that are making life difficult for many people.

Your suggestions for inclusion of data in these summaries are welcome. Please submit posts to our Facebook group.

Please remember we have a list of resources to support your emotional and mental health during this time on our website (and welcome further recommendations). The following numbers may be useful:

  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 0808 2000 247
  • Mind: 0300 123 3393
  • Age UK: 0800 169 6565
  • Childline: 0800 1111.

The core advice remains: please book a test if you have one or more symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of smell/taste (or if you are asked to by contact tracers or others conducting tests). There is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and mobile units tour Gloucestershire. We are aware that lots of people have struggled to access tests/getting results – but also that local people have had good experiences accessing tests and getting results. Please persevere and get in touch if you need help. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test. If you are struggling with self-isolating, please get in touch with us or with one of the local support groups.

Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the guidelines to wear masks when appropriate (they will help prevent spread of the virus if you have it but don’t have symptoms yet, or are asymptomatic – meaning you have the virus but without ever getting any symptoms), keep distance from people, and wash your hands regularly. Access the latest government guidance and FAQ on “Local COVID alert levels: what you need to know” online (last updated 12th October – to take account of new restrictions/advice). If there is a piece of guidance you have a question about, again – please ask in our Facebook group.