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21st 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:

  • Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total, 32.3% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.65% have had a second dose.. 99% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ have had a first dose, “102”% aged 75-79 (in reality, the population estimate is obviously a little lower than the true population – but essentially close to everyone in the age band will have had a vaccine), and 93% of people aged 70-74.
  • 78 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th February. The KCL/Zoe app data suggests the recent sharply falling trend may have at least slowed down if not started rising again (to an estimated 257 active infections in the district).
  • Across Gloucestershire, 304 people tested positive in the week to the 17th Feb (down from 534 in the previous week) – and there is a clearly 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 a third of that – 77 patients on the 16th February (the most recent date data is available), down 26 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): 8%.
  • In Gloucestershire, the most recent data – up to the 5th January – shows that 1,097 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. 178 of these people were from the Stroud district. We send our condolences to all affected.
  • 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 5th January – shows that 1,097 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate (43 added since last week). 178 of these people were from the Stroud district (4 added since last week). We send our condolences to all affected.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

The data is from registrations of death up to the 5th February, and sadly we know it will continue to rise. However, data on deaths by another measure suggests that numbers have fallen rapidly recently – perhaps due to the impact of vaccinations. Barring dramatic mutations/failures of policy, we should never see the numbers we have seen recently again.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Gloucestershire deaths

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 – but the number of deaths is lower than for the previous week and as for Gloucestershire, we should be past the worst:

  • “The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 5 February 2021 was 19,149, which was 5,317 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 5, 7,820 deaths involved COVID-19, that is, 1,194 lower than in Week 4.”
  • “The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 5 February 2021 (Week 5) was 17,192; this was 1,256 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 4).”
  • “In Week 5, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 40.8% above the five-year average (4,986 deaths higher).”
  • “Of the deaths registered in Week 5 in England and Wales, 7,320 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”; a decrease of 1,113 deaths compared with Week 4.”
  • “In Week 5, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 42.6% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is the third-highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.”
  • “Of the 7,320 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 5 in England and Wales, 6,521 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (89.1%).
  • “all English regions had a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the 13th week in a row.”
  • 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 where the virus has been able 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, 304 people tested positive in the week to 472 people tested positive in the week to the 17th Feb (down from 534 in the previous week). Not all tests will have been processed yet, but there is a very clear downward trend – now down to the levels at the end of September. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. Across Gloucestershire, a total of 21,435 people have now tested positive.

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

Looking at Stroud district specifically, 78 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 17th February (though as above, not all test results will have been processed so the number will likely end up higher for the week). This suggests the stall in decline is over, and infections are falling again. The number of people who have tested positive is in the most recent week is still higher than since October, but the district is on track to return to the low levels of September, August, July and June. Across Stroud district, 3,499 people have now tested positive.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

If we look at the age breakdown, it’s clear that positive tests have fallen rapidly among those aged 60 and over (perhaps related to vaccinations having an impact on transmission for this group?), but are flat for those under 60.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows recently positive tests are running at over 100 per 100,000 people across much of the district – see below for trends by areas of the district (“MSOAs” – “Middle Layer Super Output Areas – a statistical geography)

Source: govt interactive map
Source: gov.uk data download – MSOA API

Higher/Rising

  • Ebley and Randwick – 18
  • Stroud Town – 16
  • Minchimhampton & Amberley – 14
  • Cam – 11

Flat

  • Stonehouse – 11
  • Wotton-under-Edge & Kingswood – 10
  • Chalford & Bussge – 6
  • Painswick, Bisley & Eastcombe – 5

Falling

  • Upton St Leonards & Hardwicke – 8
  • Frampton, Whitminster & Eastington – 6
  • Dursley – 5
  • Leonard Stanley & Uley – 4
  • Berkeley & Sharpness – 0-2

Erratic/Hard to categorise

  • Nailsworth – 8
  • Rodborough & Thrupp – 5

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 257 active cases for the district – up 49 from last week by their measure. Though there is some indication of a recent rise, I’d caution not reading too much into this yet. Consistent with the confirmed case numbers, this now places the district at the levels of infections seen at the start of October, and the main recent trend is of a rapid decline. The recent appearance of a rise could be because some test results have come in later – making the decline look sharper than it should have done and creating an artificial ‘rise’. 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 – we still want to get the infections lower than they are now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Nationally, there is a wider sign of slowdown in the decline in number of cases – see this piece by the KCL/ZOE team.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:

“Although daily new cases have fallen steadily for 6 consecutive weeks in the UK, in the last few days the rate of decrease has plateaued. This is mainly true in places like Scotland, Wales and the Midlands compared to London and the East. It’s unclear why this is happening, although people relaxing their guard after vaccination or altering behaviour in the cold weather are possible. But it’s encouraging that COVID-related hospital admissions are still falling and much lower than at the peak. With cases still falling in the at-risk age groups and the vaccination roll out continuing there is still reason to be hopeful – but we clearly can’t be complacent. 

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 18th February (the most recent available data) there have been 172,007 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire: 168,623 131,362 first doses (37,261 in the past week, compared to 31,362 in the previous week), and 3,384 3,178 2,923 (206 in the past week compared to 255 in the previous week) second doses. Based on the 2019 population estimate for the area, these have covered approximately:

  • 99% of Gloucestershire residents aged 80+ with first dose, 3.8% second
  • “102”% aged 75-79 (more people have received vaccines from this age group than were estimated to be in the population – in reality the figure is probably below 100%, but very close), 0.2% second dose
  • 93% aged 70-74, 0.2% second dose
  • 16.7% aged under 70, 0.4% second dose
  • 32.3% of the Gloucestershire population aged 16+ has had a first dose, 0.65% 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)

The below poster from Public Health England outlines the priority groups for the First phase of Covid-19 vaccinations in England Groups 1-4 should all have been offered a vaccine:

  1. “Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults” (except where there are outbreaks or have been within four weeks).
  2. “All those 80 years of age and over, and fronline health and social care workers.” As with care home workers, the reason to vaccinate this occupation groups is to reduce risk to the people they work with
  3. “All those 75 years of age and over”
  4. “All those 70 years of age and over, and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable individuals” – aka “CEV” (and “not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age” – not because of safety concerns but because trials have not yet been done for those groups).

If you are in one of those groups and have not received an appointment, please contact your surgery, or use the NHS booking system.

Local vaccinations are currently being worked through the following priority groups. We can’t provide dates for when groups will be vaccinated, but UK data suggests everyone in these groups will be offered a first dose by the end of March.

5. “All those 65 years of age and over”

6. “Adults aged 16-65 years in an at-risk group” (this includes a lot of health conditions, see below*), and unpaid carers (“those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.” – see our post with local details)

7. All those 60 years of age and over

8. All those 55 years of age and over

9. All those 50 years of age and over
* Reasons why someone would be listed as being in an “at-risk group” are covered in a post in our Facebook group)

Source: Public Health England

The chart below shows the size of the different populations in each of the groups above. As you can see, the “16-64 with underlying health conditions group” is the largest individual group, but by the time this groups is being worked through, more than half of Phase 1 is complete.

Source: The Health Foundation

Below are two charts produced by John Burn-Murdoch of the Financial Times. They show (charts 1 & 2):

  • The number of vaccinations has increased to around 3 million a week (light blue bars getting bigger)
  • Everyone in priority groups 1-4 should have been offered a dose by now

If capacity stays the same at around 3 million vaccinations a week (chart 1):

  • All of groups 5-9 should have been offered a first dose by the end of March (I’ll post a link and image making clear who is in priority groups 1-9 in the comments)
  • Because of the 12 week gap between doses, if capacity stays the same at 3 million per week, vacciantions will need to shift to 2nd doses for the priority groups, starting around now but taking over capacity in April
  • Under that level of capacity, all groups 1-4 would receive a 2nd dose by early May, and all groups 5-9 would receive 2nd dose by mid-late June (chart 1).
  • Vaccination of people outside the priority groups would be slowed, but all adults would be offered a 1st dose by early August.
  • It would take till around mid-September for all adults to have been offered a 2nd dose

If capacity continues to increase – at a steady rate 2.5% weekly increase – which seems maybe plausible but would be on top of the really impressive numbers and organisation already achieved by the NHS and volunteers helping out:

  • All groups 1-4 would get their second dose by early May but
  • This wouldn’t have the same impact on stopping the distribution of first doses, so
  • All adults would be offered their first dose by end June, and
  • All adults would be offered their second dose before the end of August

The scenarios match the statement that every adult in the UK could receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine by August or September “or maybe sooner if we need to”, according to head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce Clive Dix in comments to Sky News*Obviously the situation locally will be a little different, but I think it’d be too difficult for me to make guesses – it all relates to supply, how many people are in the priority groups, and levels of takeup. Basically, we might move a little quicker than the UK as a whole based on experience so far.

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.

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 a third of that – 77 patients on the 16th February (the most recent date data is available), down 27 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): 8%. 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, the backlog and staffing issues created due to the pandemic, and the need to create Covid-19 wards and distance beds. 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 – 1,397 people were admitted on the 17th February – the lowest number this year (compared to 1,715 last week). This number is now below a third of 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 below 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 18,462 on the 18th February (compared to 23,341 on the 11th February) it is finally below the Spring 2020 peak of 21,686 on the 12th April. There is still a long, long way to go – and NHS workers in many parts of the country are still under enormous pressure.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

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 2,469 (down from 2,943 patients last week) 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.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard

Finally, on hospitals, it is worth emphasising how different the situation in different regions is with regard to Adult Critical Care bed occupany – the chart below shows the South West is down a little on last week and nearly at the previous year’s level. However, in other regions critical care capacity is well above previous years – particularly in London where critical care beds occupied are over double last year.

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

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 February – the most recent date likely to be fully processed, 12,442 people tested positive (down from 13,732 the previous week). This is now nearer October levels than November, but please continue to take care. Total infection numbers are still fairly high, and the rate of decline is slowing (though this is driven more by Scotland than England, this suggests case numbers may not continue to fall as sharply from their current levels in other nations too).

Source: Independent SAGE briefing

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 212,400 people had a symptomtic infection on the 21st February, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 249,700 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January.

Source: KCL/ZOE

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 12 February 2021; we estimate that 481,300 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 451,600 to 512,400), equating to around 1 in 115 people.” (last week: 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, as well as a presentation from Professor Stephen Reicher on the Independent SAGE’s recommendations for easing lockdown, and from Dr Rachel Clarke on experiences in hospitals over the last few months and the course of the pandemic as a whole.

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 dramatically since January 26th (14,402), falling to 9,392 for February 20th. 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 1,776 people per million – behind only Czechia (1,738 per million), Slovenia (1,812 per million), Belgium (1,889 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 (403 per million), Estonia (398 per million), Turkey (332 per million), Finland (131 per million), Norway (112 per million), Bangladesh (51 per million), Australia (36 per million), South Korea (30 per million), Cuba (26 per million), New Zealand (5 people per million), Singapore, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Bhutan and Eritrea (all below 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 (26) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (82) and United Arab Emirates (56). Globally, the rate is 2.6 doses per 100 people. There is 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.