24th January 2021 data update

Team members James Beecher and Claire Biggs summarise local data on the pandemic and put it in national and international context

A couple of things before this week’s data summary. First, this week we published a letter we sent to Gloucestershire County Council calling for clarity around the process for privately and self-employed social care workers in terms of accessing vaccines. The following day, the Council posted their “Step-by-step process for social care employers“, together with “a new online form for vaccination queries from the public and stakeholders“. NHS Gloucestershire have also launched a website where you can “Find the information you need about the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Gloucestershire in one place.Visit the site for the latest updates, info on priority groups, FAQs and more”.

SCCR Team Member Rachel Sleigh has posted about the social care workers eligible for vaccination in priority group 2. Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate.

Secondly, here are links to some of the best contributions in our Facebook group lately. We’ve been organising posts by topic, see the topic link after each individual for more:

Key local data:

  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is still around 250 (251 patients, 28% of all patients in General and Acute beds), but appears to be rising – and we understand there were just 8 unoccupied beds available to further Covid-19 patients – all data as of 19th January – the latest publicly available data. At a national level, the situation in many hospitals remains awful.
  • In Stroud district, 153 people tested positive in the 7 days to the 22nd January, compared to 221 in the week to 15th Jan, and 272 and 310 in the two previous weeks (with the peak the week to 1st January) – not all tests will have been processed yet, 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 – locally the number of people who tested positive in the most recent week is still higher than in all but the 8 worst weeks in the recent peak and the peak in mid-November.
  • 149 people from Stroud district have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate – as of the 8th January (the most recent publicly available data). This includes 4 people who died in the week to the 8th January. The weekly number has been falling since a recent peak of 9 people in the week to 25th December. Across Gloucestershire as a whole, 871 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate – with 51 dying in the week to the 8th January, the highest total in a week since May. By the 8th January, 95,829 people from the UK had died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate.
  • Using the 2019 ONS projected population estimates, I calculate 85.3% of people aged 80 and over in Gloucestershire have received at least one vaccine dose – while 3.6% of people aged 80 or over have had two doses. Across the UK as a whole, 59.4% of people aged 80+ have had one dose, and 11.3% two doses.
  • For people aged 50-80, 13% in Gloucestershire have received a dose, and 0.7% have received two doses. Those aged under 80 will be care home workers in priority group 1, frontline health and social care workers in priority group 2, as well as – for first doses – the first of those in priority group 3 – people aged 70-79 (with those aged 75 and over prioritised first).

Vaccinations

Thanks to newly available NHS data, we will be reporting on the progress of vaccinations each week from now on. And there’s good news from the start: the Financial Times reported that “Gloucestershire is leading the race in England to vaccinate its most vulnerable residents” (subscriber).

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that:

  • In total, there have been 65,026 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 62,140 first doses, and 2,886 second doses.
  • 2,886 people living in Gloucestershire have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine: 1,360 aged 80 and over, and 1,526 aged under 80. A further 30,543 people aged 80 and over have received a first dose, and 28,711 people aged under 80.
  • Using the 2019 ONS projected population estimates, I calculate 85.3% of people aged 80 and over in Gloucestershire have received at least one vaccine dose – while 3.6% of people aged 80 or over have had two doses. Across the UK as a whole, 59.4% of people aged 80+ have had one dose, and 11.3% two doses.
  • For people aged 50-80, 13% in Gloucestershire have received a dose, and 0.7% have received two doses. This compared to 10.3%, and 0.6% of 50-80 year olds, across England.
Source: FT journalist John Burn Murdoch on twitter

Hospitals – local, regional, national

The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is still around 250 across the General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and at 251 as of the 22nd January (the most recent date). The number is double 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), and it takes time for people admitted to hospital to recover, so it may be some time before we see these numbers 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 28% on the 6th January, fell to 25% on the 16th and 17th January, but rose to 28% on the 19th January (the most recent data available). This is over double the recent low of 13% on 21st November (double would be 26%).

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, there are NHS Trusts that have been in much worse positions – where confirmed Covid-19 cases account for over half of General and Acute beds – Guardian article for the week to 12th January “NHS crisis in charts: how Covid has increased strain on health service” (three charts from which copied below)

Source: Guardian/NHS England

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital appears to be peaking – at nearly 40,000 people (39,159 on the 18th January, 37,899 on the 21st – the most recent data available). This is nearly double (181%) the Spring 2020 peak – 21,684 Covid-19 patients on the 12th April, though testing may be catching more cases now).

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds is also higher than in the Spring 2020 peak – hitting a new peak of 4,076 on 22nd January, compared to 3,301 on the 12th April (123% of the previous peak). This is despite the fact that other treatment options are often sought now (hence the lower proportion increase compared to for Covid-19 patients above)

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 Gloucestershire – though they appear to be falling rapidly. The number of people testing positive in both December and January (to the 24th) has exceeded 5,000. Nearly 20,000 individual people from Gloucestershire have tested positive since the pandemic began.

In Stroud district, 153 people tested positive in the 7 days to the 22nd January, compared to 221 in the week to 15th Jan, and 272 and 310 in the two previous weeks (with the peak the week to 1st January). I’ve included the positive test numbers from February 2020, but bear in mind that until May tested was restricted to people entering hospital, so the Spring peak captures a much smaller proportion of people who had the virus that tests do now (even though people with the virus are still not always tested now).

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 for both age groups, and particular fast among people aged 0-59 – hitting a peak on 5th January.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

We sometimes get asked about the number of people being tested – and this has been generally rising in Stroud district – to recent peaks of 4,389 in the 7 days to the 14th January and 4,637 in the 7 days to the 8th January. However, only between 5 and 10 % of people who are tested at the moment test positive – and this number has been much lower when the virus is more under control – see next chart.

Source: gov.uk data download

The proportion of tests that return positive results is a good indicator of how prevalent the virus is. In Stroud district, the two recent peaks were for the seven days to the 1st January (when 9.4% of people tested positive), and the seven days to the 10th November (when 7.9% of people tested positive). In August and September, when the virus was not circulating following the Spring 2020 lockdown restrictions and other restrictions suppressing it, under 1% of people tested were positive – with the lowest rate being in the week to the 6th August when 0.2% of people tested were positive. As well as helping us understnd how prevalent the virus is at different times, and how effective sustained suppression can be, this shows how rare “false positives” are.

Source: gov.uk data download

In Gloucestershire as a whole, 1,215 people tested positive in the week to the 22nd January compared to 1,639 in the week to the 14th January, and 2,258 in the 7 days to 1st January. Again, while not all data is in yet – it looks like a dramatic fall from the peak (though the weekly positive test number is still higher than for any week other than in the past month – 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

Across the UK the number of people testing positive each day is falling sharply – but is still very high. The peak date of positive submitted specimins was 4th January with 76,089 people submitting a sample that tested positive. On the 16th January – the most recent date likely to be fully processed, 30,534 people testing positive. This is still much higher than the since before mid-December, so please continue to take care.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 582,000 people had a symptomtic infection on the 23rd January, compared to a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

People who have died with Covid-19

The Office for National Statistics reports that: “Across the UK, there were 20,023 deaths (all causes) registered in Week 1 (week ending 8 January 2021), which was 6,170 deaths higher than the UK five-year average and 8,443 more deaths than in Week 53 (week ending 1 January 2021). Of these deaths, 6,586 involved the coronavirus (COVID-19), 3,162 more deaths than in Week 53 (92.3% increase)”. The sudden rise reflects reporting of death registrations after bank holidays over the new year (which suppressed reporting in previous weeks), as well as the increase in the number of people dying.

By the 8th January, 95,829 people from the UK had died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

Source: gov.uk 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.

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing. This has Kit Yates’s data presentation, followed by questions and answers from the expert panel around mental health, including a section on how to talk to young people about death.

https://youtu.be/NBjlBTO45ZM

For a shorter summary, see Professor Tim Spector from the Kings College London/ZOE Covid-19 app team (5 minutes)

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 14,070 on January 23rd, 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 4th worst affected of all countries), at 1,437 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,601 per million), Belgium (1,788 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 (116 per million), Norway (100 per million), Bangladesh (49 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (26 per million), Cuba (17 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), and Mongolia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Taiwan and Burundi (all under 1 person 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.