17th January 2021 data update

Team member James Beecher – this week and in future with help from Claire Biggs and vaccination information from Rachel Sleigh – summarises local data on the pandemic and puts it in national and international context

Before this week’s data summary, a note that we’ve had some really useful contributions in our Facebook group lately – and we are trying to keep these organised by topic. Click the links below for posts on:

  • Covid vaccines – including updates on the local rollout
  • Local online entertainment/activities (including free course off from South Gloucestershire and Stroud College)
  • Food offers – including takeaways operating in lockdown, The Long Table’s “Freezers of Love” and more
  • Education and parenting resources, including new posts from team member and teacher, Polly Stratton – who will be providing a weekly post of ideas
  • Tackling misinformation – details of scams, and a Stroud Town Council statement on coronavirus misinformation (which amongst other things signposts to us, for which we are grateful!)

Key local data:

  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals appears to be plateauing, at around 250 (more than a quarter of all patients in General and Acute beds). With recent infections it seems possible this will rise a little, but infections are hopefully peaking so we can start to hope that pressure on the local NHS may begin to lift soon. At a national level, the situation in many hospitals remains awful.
  • In Stroud district, 215 people tested positive in the 7 days to the 14th January, compared to 286 in the week to 7th Jan – not all tests will have been processed yet, and the number of people who have tested positive in the week is still much higher than in all but the past two or three weeks, but across Stroud district, Gloucestershire and indeed the country it seems we are passing the peak number of people infected. No room for complacency yet – but hope that despite the new variant transmission can be brought under control.
  • In Stroud district, a total of 147 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in 2020 – 11% of the total 1,354 people from Stroud district who died this year. 55 of those who died with Covid-19 died in the ‘second wave’ so far, compared to 92 in the ‘first wave’.
  • Across Gloucestershire as a whole, a total of 850 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in 2020 – 12% of the total 6,932 people from the county who died this year. 265 of those who died with Covid-19 died in the ‘second wave’ so far, compared to 585 in the ‘first wave’.
  • By the end of 15th January, all Gloucestershire care home residents (bar those in one home with a current outbreak) should have been vaccinated, along with the vast majority of the staff – according to Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (which has oversight over the local NHS). Meanwhile, Berkeley Vale Primary Care Network had contacted all over 80s who could be expected to get to The Vale for a vaccine, and people in their 70s are now being vaccinated in the district. More than 10,000 doses have been given to health and social care staff in Gloucestershire. Both represent really good progress compared to the national picture, which itself is really good nationally (with over 6 doses per 100 people).

Hospitals – local, regional, national

The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals appears to be plateauing, at around 250 across the General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and 253 as of the 12th January (the most recent date). The number is doubled the 13th November number (127). Numbers of patients in hospital tend to lag infections (as it takes time for people who get sick enough to need hospital treatment to get to that point), so sadly with recent rises in infections (see below) we are still likely to see the numbers in hospitals rise before we see them fall.

Source: NHS hospital activity

In terms of the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, in the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals (the blue bars only in the chart above), this hit a new peak of 27.5% on the 6th January, and has been stable since (27.1% as of the 12th January – the most recent data). This is approaching double the recent low of 14.9% on 4th December (double would be 29.9%).

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, there are NHS Trusts in much worse positions – where confirmed Covid-19 cases account for over half of General and Acute beds – Guardian article “NHS crisis in charts: how Covid has increased strain on health service” (three charts from which copied below)

Source: Guardian/NHS England

All regions in England have more Covid patients than they had in the first wave – including the South West where numbers are essentially double the spring level.

Source: Guardian/NHS England

By 10th January, over 1,000 more adult critical care beds were occupied in England than at any point in the past five winters. Don’t let anyone tell you this is ‘just the flu’, let alone that ‘hospitals are empty’.

Source: Guardian/NHS England

Positive test results / estimates of numbers of people with the virus

In terms of positive test results, many of which we may reasonably expect to lead to further hospital admissions in weeks to come, these continue to be high in Stroud district and Gloucestershire – though there is some sign that rates are not rising as quickly as they were (this could be an artefact while we wait for tests to be processed):

In Stroud district, 215 people tested positive in the 7 days to the 14th January, compared to 286 in the week to 7th Jan, and 266 in the 6 days to the 31st December. The number of people who have tested positive is still higher than for all of November and all but the most recent three weeks so there is no cause for complacency but there is a good sign here. It seems likely that the district has passed the current peak – this is clearer when looking at daily numbers, see below.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

Looking at daily rate of people testing positive per 100,000 people above and below 60 years of age, it appears that infection numbers are falling – hitting a peak on 5th January. Data since does not include all test results as they take time to process but is so far consistent with a falling trend.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

In Gloucestershire as a whole, 1,625 people tested positive in the week to the 14th January compared to 2,266 in the week to the 7th January, and 1,883 in the 6 days to 31st December. Again, while not all data is in yet – it looks like the peak has passed (though the weekly positive test number is still higher than for any week other than the previous fortnight – there is no cause for complacency!) Again, the daily data is consistent with a falling trend – I’ve not copied the chart here but you can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard.

Source: data.gov download

People who have died with Covid-19

There are a number of different ways to measure the number of people who have died with Covid-19, and – contrary to claims – there is a set of data that distinguishes those who have died because of Covid-19, in the opinion of clinicians. The below is a presentation of the data to aid understanding of the impacts of the pandemic – it is very impersonal as such, for which I can only apologise. My condolences to all who have lost a family member or loved one.

In Stroud district, a total of 147 people died with Covid-19 mentioned by a clinician on their death certificate in 2020 – 11% of the total 1,354 people from Stroud district who died this year. 55 of those who died with Covid-19 died in the ‘second wave’ so far, compared to 92 in the ‘first wave’.

Across Gloucestershire as a whole, a total of 850 people died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in 2020 – 12% of the total 6,932 people from the county who died this year. 265 of those who died with Covid-19 died in the ‘second wave’ so far, compared to 585 in the ‘first wave’.

The total number of people to die with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate from each part of Gloucestershire, and the percentage of the county Covid-19 total, is as follows:

  • Cheltenham: 193 / 23%
  • Gloucester: 193 / 23%
  • Stroud: 147 / 17%
  • Tewkesbury: 135 / 16%
  • Cotswold: 103 / 12%
  • Forest of Dean: 79 / 9%

The Office for National Statistics reports that: “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 1 January 2021 was 11,541, which was 2,304 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 53, 3,417 deaths involved COVID-19, 220 higher than in Week 52.”

By the 1st January, 89,243 people from the UK had died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Data from death certificates comes in around two weeks after people die, and from data on people who have died within 28 days of a positive test, we can expect that sadly the numbers of people recorded as dying with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate is set to rise considerably over the coming weeks. Positive test and Hospitalisation numbers also indicate that deaths will rise – as, again, as they are earlier indiciators. 89,261 people from the UK have died within 28 days of a positive test.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

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. 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. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.

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. Gloucestershire along with the rest of the country is in National Lockdown – guidance here. If there is a piece of guidance you have a question about, again – please ask in our Facebook group.

More national and international context

The following slides are from Professor Christina Pagel’s presentation as part of this week’s Independent SAGE briefing – which as ever is highly recommended.

The number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases by day reported is falling – though there is a possible rise/blip in the most recent days.

There have now been more hospital admissions in the ‘second wave’ than in the first: 172,044 compared to 114,143 as of data to 12th January. There were over 100,000 admissions since 1st December alone.

Covid outbreaks in workplaces are increasing – a worrying sign given that more workplaces are open than in the first lockdown.

Professor Pagel presented the following really useful chart which shows how the different age groups account for different proportions of the population, and other categories. It shows that 15-44 year olders account for a higher proportion of confirmed cases than they do of the population. However, in terms of hospital admissions, people aged 65+ account for more than half of these, and people aged 75-84 and 85 and above, account for much bigger proportions than they do of the population as a whole (as we would expect – we know the virus tends to affect older people worst).

This is starkest in terms of the proportion of people to die with a positive test: more than 70% are aged over 75. This is the group that are currently being vaccinated – so the vaccination programme should have a really good impact on lowering the numbers of people dying.

However, as you can see, the proportion of ICU admissions is not the same. A hugher proportion of these, around 40%, are of people aged 45-64 – who will not be being vaccinated until later in the year. Hence, the pressure on the NHS is unlikely to be fully relieved in the near future.

There is good progress on vaccines – over 35% of over 80s have now been vaccinated (and the picture is even better in Gloucestershire), and the UK is on track for 2 million vaccination doses a week soon.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing. This has Professor Christina Pagel’s data presentation (from which some charts above are taken), followed by questions and answers from the exert panel around mental health, workplaces, schools, nurseries, vaccine rollout and more – including three young people (aged 16-17) in discussion about their experiences of the pandemic.

International context

Globally, over 2 million people have now died with their death attributed to Covid-19 at least in part (subject to different counting methods in different countries). The situation remains concerning – deaths continue to rise, with Our World in Data reporting the highest number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) as reaching a new high of 13,641 on January 16th, with no sign that the rate of deaths is slowing globally.

In terms of rates of the number of people to have died per million people, the UK remains one of the worst affected countries (currently the 7th worst affected of all countries), at 1,307 people per million – behind Czechia (1,327 per million), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1,344 per million), Italy (1,352 per million), Slovenia (1,510 per million), Belgium (1,760 per million) and San Marion (1,915 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Finland (112 per million), Norway (95 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (24 per million), and New Zealand (5 people per million).

The United Kingdom is doing much better in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people – the second highest in the world behind only Israel (not included on chart below on because it’s rate is so high it makes the other comparisons hard to read).

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.

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.

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