14th February 2021 data update

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

Key data:

  • This week, we learned that the number of people to have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate passed 1,000. We send our condolences to all affected, and share thoughts on this from Community Celebrant Christina Snell below.
  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, 25.2% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose. Mostly, this is because 98% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ have had a first dose, 99% aged 75-79, and 70% of people aged 70-74.
  • 130 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 12th February. It looks like the number of people testing postive each week is flat, or at best – falling slowly. However, the KCL/Zoe app data suggests a sharply falling trend (from 721 to 209 estimated people with active infections), which we can hope is a leading indicator.
  • Across Gloucestershire, 472 people tested positive in the week to the 12th Feb (down from 677 in the previous week) – and there is a clearer falling trend.
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below half that – 104 patients on the 9th February (the most recent date data is available), down 30 from the week before. In the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals, the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 11%.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have died with Covid-19

In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 29th January – shows that 1,054 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 174 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The data is from registrations of death up to the 29th January, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. Each individual person is important, but milestones like this – over 1,000 people dying with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate – are markers that prompt reflection for all of us, whether we are experiencing bereavement ourselves or not. The SCCR Team asked Community Celebrant Christina Snell to offer her thoughts at this time – and we are grateful to her for the piece, which is copied below. Please read it. In our Facebook group we posted relevant resources in the comments (please also add your own). We will do our best as a moderation team to make our Facebook group a space where we can, in Christina’s words “continue to reach out and care for each other”:

“As we learn that over 1000 deaths in Gloucestershire, during the past 10 months, have had Covid 19 mentioned on their death certificates, it seems an appropriate moment to pause and reflect upon the massive level of loss this represents, not just to individual families, but in many ways to all of us. Some might choose to debate the accuracy of the figure, but such discussions are, for me, something of a distraction from more important issues. Although we may never be able to quantify exactly how many people have had their lives cut short by the virus and by how much, what this sobering figure reminds us is how many families, friends and neighbours have lost loved ones, before they might have expected to, often unable to say goodbye, or bring them comfort during their final days and hours. For some, this loss has been compounded by losing more than one person, sometimes in a very short space of time. And of course, even for those who have died of causes other than Covid 19, often the same issues of separation, and inability to say goodbye as they would want, have affected their families and those they loved. Additionally, families have then found themselves unable to visit loved ones in the Chapel of Rest, or to have the funeral they feel their loved one deserved. Despite the best efforts of funeral directors, crematoria staff and celebrants such as myself, we have had to work within unprecedented restrictions. These include; limited numbers at funerals, being unable to gather properly afterwards and not being able to say an intimate farewell inside the Crematorium Chapel. These have further added to people’s distress. This experience of grief and loss is not limited to families who have lost someone. Even if not affected directly, most of us will know people who have lost a loved one. We don’t have to look far in the news or on social media to find stories from these times that bring a tear to our eye. We tend to think of grief and loss in terms of people, but these times have brought other losses to all of us; limits on our freedoms, the inability to spend time with those we love, a lack of physical touch, lost opportunities and for many, financial loss. So much. Few of us will have experienced a collective level of grief on this scale, and there is no doubt that we will feel the impact and bear the scars for many years to come. Yet throughout this time, in the darkest of hours, in the saddest of moments, I have been touched and humbled to witness the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Gestures of kindness and bravery, from the small and everyday, to acts of great humanity. Courage and stoicism, compassion and care. And it is these very things that will help us heal over time – as individuals, and as a society. If we continue to reach out and care for each other we will get through this.”

Christina Snell, Community Celebrant

The above data is the best we get on people who have died – from the Office for National Statistics, who report based on what clinicians determine the cause of death to be for death certificates. This data takes time to come in – so the below is only up to the 29th January. It is sobering reading:

  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 29 January 2021 (Week 4) was 18,448; this was 228 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 3) and is the fifth-highest number of weekly deaths recorded during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
  • “In Week 4, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 44.6% above the five-year average (5,688 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 4 in England and Wales, 8,433 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; this is the second-highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and an increase of 11 deaths compared with Week 3.”
  • “In Week 4, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 45.7% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.”
  • “Of the 8,433 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 4 in England and Wales, 7,610 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (90.2%).”
  • From “Week 1 2020 through to Week 4 2021… the number of deaths up to 29 January 2021 was 687,014. Of the deaths registered by 29 January 2021, 111,851 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 16.3% of all deaths in England and Wales
  • The chart below shows how Covid-19 deaths contribute to the number of deaths being way above the 5-year average during times when the virus is allowed to infect large numbers of people.

Our previous update discusses the death rate in Stroud district compared to the rest of the country.

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 472 people tested positive in the week to the 12th Feb (down from 677 in the previous week). Not all tests will have been processed yet, but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to October levels. The chart shows very clearly how quickly case numbers can rise again from this level, there’s still some way to go to reach the low levels in the summer. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,113 people have now tested positive.

Source: data.gov download – data and chart by James Beecher and Claire Biggs

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 130 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 12th February (though as above, not all test results will have been processed so the number will likely end up higher for the week). It does look like numbers from the district are stalling rather than falling as across Gloucestershire as a whole. Last week I reported 124 tests in the most recent week (that week is now at 131 but it seems likely the most recent week will be slightly higher). The number of people who have tested positive is still higher in each recent week than it was in the low between the second national lockdown and the third, and – as for Gloucestershire as a whole, we can see how rapidly the number of people testing positive in a week rose – from 96 in the week to 20th November to 310 in the week to 18th December. Across Stroud district, 3,433 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

Last week, we took a more detailed look at where people in the district are from who test positive. We’ll perhaps do this again next week when there’s been enough time passed to make it worthwhile. In the meantime, you can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to see this data as a map.

Finally on the number of people with the virus. We know that not everyone can get a test or gets one even if they can. The Kings College London/Zoe Covid-19 symptom study app reports estimates for Stroud district – based on reporting of symptoms by people using the app (of whom there are over 3,000 in Stroud district). Their latest estimate is 209 active cases for the district – down 512 from last week by their measure (and down 300 from the last time we reported). This is really encouraging, and hopefully a leading indicator for confirmed cases. Nonetheless, please continue to take care, keep following the guidance, and do what you can to reduce contacts and support people who need to isolate.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, there have been 134,540 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 131,362 first doses (31,362 in the past week), and 3,178 2,923 (255 in the past week) second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 98% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.7% second
  • 99% aged 75-79, 0.2% second dose
  • 70% aged 70-74, 0.1% second dose
  • 10.2% aged under 70, 0.4% second dose
  • 25.2% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.6% have had a second dose.
  • There continue to be regular updates about vaccination locally (see the Facebook group topic) in our Facebook group. If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read this Age UK page on life after the vaccine (it’s from 21st Jan and a few things have moved on – and it written for older people but is worthwhile reading for anyone who has been vaccinated):
  • All health and social care workers should be offered the vaccine by mid-February 2021. Priority will be based on regular close contact with individuals who have either confirmed or suspected COVID-19, as well as staff who work with those at higher risk of being infected or becoming seriously ill if they do. Social care workers MUST have a ‘Letter of Eligibility’. See Rachel’s post on social care workers, and Gloucestershire County Council’s “Step-by-step process for social care employers” for more information.

Please continue to ask us questions/raise concerns in our Facebook group and we will signpost to the best information we are aware of and/or pass on concerns as and when appropriate. We have separated out tagging of posts in the Facebook group into posts about local vaccination progress, and posts about the Covid-19 vaccines more generally, the latter including attempts to tackle misinformation.

On the latter point, Stephen Cook shared a useful article from the Health Foundation which includes the chart below on how many people are in each group for the Phase 1 rollout of vaccination. Gloucestershire is currently working through people aged 65 and over, approximately half-way through Phase 1 (obviously local proportions may vary compared to this national level chart).

Hospitals – local, national

The good news is that the number of Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals is rapidly falling across General and Acute and Community beds – peaking at 262 on the 6th January and below half that – 104 patients on the 9th February (the most recent date data is available), down 30 from the week before. Sadly, some of this decline will be due to people in hospital dying – but it is good news that more people are not being admitted. There’s still a way to go, and we wish everyone in hospital with Covid-19 and their loved ones well.

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), there is good news – the proportion of beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients is down to the lowest level since 17th November (the earliest day for which we have data): 11%. The trend is really encouraging – but note how there is very little spare capacity in the hospitals. This is likely because of normal winter pressures and the backlog created due to the pandemic. It underlines how little room for new Covid-19 admissions there is.

Source: NHS hospital activity

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling – 1,715 people were admitted on the 10th February – the lowest number this year. This number is now below half the peak daily number for this ‘wave’ (4,576 Covid-19 patients were admitted on the 12th January), below the first ‘wave’ peak (3,150 on the 7th April), and the level of the mid-November peak (1,782 patients on 18th November).

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Because people with Covid-19 tend to stay in hospital for some time, the total number of people with the virus in hospital hasn’t yet fallen as much. At 23,341 on the 11th February it is still above the Spring 2020 peak of 21,686 on the 12th April. it’s a good sign that the number is falling, but there is a long, long way to go – and NHS workers in many parts of the country are still under enormous pressure.

The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds – some of the sickest patients is also now lower than in the Spring 2020 peak – having peaked at 4,077 patients (on 24th January). There are still 2,943 patients in these beds, compared to 3,247 on the 18th April at the height of the spring 2020 peak. We send our best for their recovery.

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 9th February – the most recent date likely to be fully processed, 13,732 people tested positive. This is now nearer October levels than November, but please continue to take care. Total infection numbers are still fairly high.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 249,700 people had a symptomtic infection on the 14th February, based on symptom reporting by up to 4 million app users. This compares to 353,400 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

The Office for National Statistics have a higher estimate based on their random sample testing of tens of thousands of people – but is data from longer ago: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in the week ending 6 February 2021; we estimate that 695,400 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 660,200 to 732,200), equating to around 1 in 80 people.”

For more on the national situation I – as ever – highly recommend the Independent SAGE weekly briefing (1 hr 20 minutes). This week has a data presentation from Professor Christina Pagel that is really helpful, particularly looking ahead to the end of lockdown – and lots of discussing on vaccination, including a presentation by Anthony Costello and questions about global vaccine rollout.

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 – but there is a sign that the number of people dying may be starting to fall, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) has been falling since January 26th (14,402), falling to 11,960 for February 13th. This is tragically still very high and there is a long way to go.

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 1,725 people per million – behind only Slovenia (1,782 per million), Belgium (1,867 per million) and San Marino (2,122 per million – though obviously a country with a much smaller population than the others).

Several countries have much lower death rates, including Denmark (395 per million), Estonia (370 per million), Turkey (325 per million), Finland (128 per million), Norway (109 per million), Bangladesh (50 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (30 per million), Cuba (23 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all around 1 person 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 (22) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (73) and United Arab Emirates (50). Globally, the rate is 2.2 doses per 100 people. There is – as discussed on the Independent SAGE briefing – a real need to plan to improve global vaccination.

Notes

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.

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.