2nd May 2021 data update

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

At the end of this week’s data update for Stroud, Gloucestershire and beyond, is a summary and link to details of current guidance. The next stage of the government’s roadmap for easing restrictions is due to take place “no earlier than 17 May.”

Key data:

  • Sadly, after two weeks where no-one from Stroud district died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, the deaths of two people have been recorded in the most recent data (to 16th April), bringing the district total to 199. These were two of three people across Gloucestershire to die with or because of Covid-19 (the Gloucestershire total is now 1,183 people). Data from the UK’s statistics agencies shows that 151,243 people living in the UK have died with their “death certificate mentioning COVID-19” as one of the causes – with another 402 people added to this total in the most recent week of data (compared to 422 the week before, and 450 the week before that, a slow but important decline). We send our condolences to all affected. There are two people in Gloucestershire hospitals with Covid-19, and we also wish them well with their recoveries.
  • Rates of the number of people testing positive per 100,000 people are still low in Stroud district and Gloucestershire – indeed among the lowest rates in the UK: 12.5 per 100,000 in Stroud district, and 11 per 100,000 across Gloucestershire. These are both very low rates in national context, or compared to what rates have been. the ZOE app/Kings College London estimate is the lowest it has been at 7 active symptomatic infections for the district.
  • Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast but appear to be stalling – 160 people were admitted on the 27th April, compared to 132 seven days previously – and 4,577 at the peak on 12th January). The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals was 1,451 on the 29th April, down from 1,781 on the 22nd April (and from a peak of 39,249 on 18th January). The lowest last summer was 803 on the 2nd September, so there is still some way to go. The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds is now 185 (30th April, down from 243 on the 23rd April, having peaked at 4,077 patients on 24th January). The lowest last summer was 60 on 28th August. We send our best for the recovery of all Covid-19 patients in hospital.
  • Gloucestershire NHS has delivered half a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. around 100% of people aged 65 or over in Stroud district have had a first dose, and around 75% a second dose (compared to 97% and 68% for England). For 45-64 year olds, around 92% have had a first dose, and around 12% a second dose (88% and 16% for England). Far lower proportions of people aged 16-44 have had first / second doses – because other then people who work in health or social care, or are clinically vulnerable – vaccination has not been available to them. Nonetheless, already 25% of people aged 16-44 in Stroud district have received a first dose and 8% a second dose.
  • Across the UK, as of 2nd May nearly 50 million doses have been delivered (49,834,997) and 34,505,380 people have received at least a first dose (65.5% of UK adults have had a first dose and 29.1% have had a second. The proportion of the full population would be lower as there are a large number of people aged under 16 who are not eligible to be vaccinated – at least as yet).
  • While the number of people testing positive in the UK is reaching very low levels, there is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over – the 7-day average number of people testing positive per day reached a new high on April 25th – 826,374 – and has been steady at around that level since (this partly reflects increased testing but mostly is a function of the fact that the virus is rampant in many countries, including India – where the 7 day daily average reached 365,000 people testing positive on April 30th).
  • The number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) at the global level is rising again – to 13,431 on April 30th, approaching the global previous peak of 14,435 on January 26th. In the context of robust evidence that data on the number of people dying in India, to give just one example, undercounts significantly the scale of what is happening, it is likely that the number of people dying daily with their death attributed in some way to Covid-19 is as high as it has ever been.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 62 people tested positive in the week to the 28th April (down from a total of 84 for last week, and from 64 in the previous week). The number of people testing positive across the county is broadly flat – at a very low level, and could be higher than in August only because of more testing of people without symptoms (it’s hard to tell. Alternatively infections are still spreading among age groups that have not yet been vaccinated). You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire on the government’s dashboard. The rate per 100,000 people for Gloucestershire is 11 – one of the lowest rates in the UK.

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

14 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 28th April (the same number as tested positive in the previous week). There were several days relatively recently where no specimens submitted resulted in positive tests – the most recent on 27th April (prior to that it also happened on the 24th, 14th, 11th, 9th, 8th, 6th, 4th and 2nd April. The rate per 100,000 people in Stroud district is for the past 7 days 12.5, again – one of the lowest rates around the UK.

Source: gov.uk dashboard – data download

If we look at the number of PCR tests being done in Stroud district – and the proportion that test positive – we can see that the number of test is broadly falling (as we’d expect if fewer people have symptoms). After a brief uptick in the proportion of tests that are positive, this proportion is down to very low levels again: 0.2% of the 3,115 tests completed in the last 7-day period for which data is available. It was lowest on the 14th April at 0.1% of 2,876 tests in the previous week. At low numbers of total cases it is still hopefully the case that we are identifying more of the small number of people who have the virus as it continues to circulate – hopefully interrupting transmission chains as part of suppression, rather than reaching the point of such low prevalence that the only positive tests are ‘false positives’.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows once again that almost all areas in Stroud district and the surrounding areas across the county and beyond – with fewer than 2 positive tests in the week to 27th April (this data is “suppressed” to protext the privacy of individuals when only small numbers of people test positive – but could mean no-one has tested positive in the previous 7 days in many of these places). Only Ebley & Randwick have 3 cases – up 1 from last week indicating there were 2 there that weren’t shown on the map last week. Even this is plausibly one household. As we know 14 people have tested positive across Stroud district, the remaining 11 must be distributed across the different areas of the district, rather than there being an outbreak in one area (7 households of 2 people, or a larger number of households of a mix of 1 and 2 people). The area with the highest rate of cases in Gloucestershire is Kingshold and Wotton in Gloucester where 4 people testing positive gives a rate of 43.7 per 100,000 over the past 7 days – this could represent just one or two or households. That this is the highest rate helps us understand how low prevalence of the virus is across the county.

Source: govt interactive map

You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to get more data on your local area.

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 down to 7 (seven) active symptomatic cases for the district – down by 4 from last week’s 11 by their measure, to what we believe is the lowest ever estimate. It is interesting that this is the first time the estimated number of active symptomatic people is lower than the number of people testing positive for the first time. Usually the ZOE/KCL estimate is higher, because not everyone gets tested. The implication is that the PCR test positive total of 14 includes 7 who tested positive without symptoms or because of a false positive result – or that the ZOE/KCL estimate is too low because they haven’t had the reports of positive tests reported to them. Either way, the ZOE/KCL estimate of a downward trend coupled with the low positivity rate for PCR tests suggests prevalence locally is very low now.

Source: Covid 19 Symptom Study app

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 15,629 people had a symptomtic infection on the 2nd May, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 19,565 last week and a peak of 806,000 on the 12th January. The KCL/ZOE team estimated a 17,391 people had infections on August 25th and we believe that today’s estimate is their lowest number of people with a symptomatic infection. Prof Tim Spector says “Rates still slowly dropping but at a lower rate and importantly no suggestion of upturn after pubs etc opened

Vaccinations

We’ve published five videos of clips from an interview with Dr Tom Malins – a GP at Price’s Mill surgery in Nailsworth who is also a Clinical Director for the Severn Health Primary Care Network (PCN) which covers a set of local surgeries linked to the Beeches Green vaccination hub. The two videos below cover Dr Tom Malins comments on side effects, and having his own vaccinations. Please watch/share on Facebook via the link – the other videos are in the comments.

Tom Malins on second doses

The local NHS say they have now delivered over half a million doses (as of Friday 30th April). Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 29th April (the most recent available data) there had been 488,061 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (34,403 doses delivered in the past week of data, up from 27,259 doses in the previous week – and a peak of 82,267 doses in the week to 21st March). Of these, 348,128 are first doses (up 3,770 in the most recent week – more than the previous week’s 3,266) and 139,933 second doses (up 30,633, compared to 23,653 in the previous week). The chart below shows how the rate at which second doses are being delivered is increasing while the number receiving first doses has flattened off. There are 11 weeks between the 18th April on the right and the 7th February – the third week in from the left. More people have received a second dose by 25th April (139,933) than had received a first dose 11 weeks ago (1313,362) – indicating that overall people are receiving their second doses before the 12 week deadline, just as they should (dark blue column is above the red line linking back to the light blue column from 11 weeks ago). The chart also shows how meeting increasing need for 2nd doses in a context of supply issues with AstraZeneca has slowed the delivery of 1st doses for now.

The chart below shows vaccination coverage for the Stroud district, as proportions of the different age bands, compared to other areas. In theory this would show the takeup of vaccination by people, but its only an approximation – as though we know the number of people to have had first doses, we have to calculate this as a percentage of an estimate population of residents of different ages (from the Office for National Statistics 2019 estimate). The estimated number of residents in each age band won’t be quite right for various reasons – some people will have moved into an older age band, some will have moved to the area.
The chart below shows that around 100% of people aged 65 or over in Stroud district have had a first dose, and around 75% a second dose (compared to 97% and 68% for England). For 45-64 year olds, around 92% have had a first dose, and around 12% a second dose (88% and 16% for England – the second dose proportion is likely higher because more second doses were delivered before the shift from doing these at 3 to 12 weeks across the rest of the country. In other words, Stroud district is slightly behind in second doses because it prioritised first doses soon – which is why it is slightly ahead in terms of first doses. Far lower proportions of people aged 16-44 have had first / second doses – because other then people who work in health or social care, or are clinically vulnerable – vaccination has not been available to them. Nonetheless, already 25% of people aged 16-44 have received a first dose and 8% a second dose.

Source: NHS England

People aged 40 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link, as can anyone who meets the criteria for other top priority groups. Making a booking at a mass vaccination site (Cainscross Pharmacy/Britannia Dance Studio, Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Malvern, Oxford etc) will not affect whether you receive a GP surgery invite to a local vaccination hub or site in the district. You can cancel bookings at mass vaccination sites via the link (under “manage your bookings“). Please ensure to do this with time for people to take the slot so vaccine isn’t wasted. If you are able to travel to a mass vaccination site, you free up space for people who cannot travel at the local hubs.

Check out our previous videos with Dr Jim Holmes and Practice Manager Karen Pitney from Rowcroft Medical Centre on “why you should get vaccinated“, “the process for receiving your vaccination” and “second doses“.

Prices Mill surgery update on 30th April says “can’t offer [vaccinations to people aged 40 plus] locally yet. We are currently needing almost all our supplies for second doses but we will be inviting this group in due course if you do not want to travel.”

Minchinhampton surgery update from 29th April reads: “1st vaccinations completed to date: 5,013 2nd vaccinations completed to date: 2,085 The next vaccination clinics are planned for 4th May at Horsfall House (2nd AstraZeneca vaccinations), 7th and 8th May at Rowcroft Medical Centre (2nd Pfizer vaccinations) and 9th May at Rowcroft Medical Centre (1st & 2nd AstraZeneca vaccinations).”

Rowcroft Medical Centre update on 29th April says “We have now sent text invitations (and attempted telephone contact with patients without mobile phones), for all of you aged 40 and over and all patients, of any age, in Cohort 6. The invitations are from AccuRx which is our booking system and you should use the link in the text to book. If you do not have a smart phone and you receive a text on your mobile please call us and we will make the booking for you….

We are well on our way through our second dose vaccination clinics and are starting to send out invitations for patients who received their first vaccination on February 17th, 18th and 19th. These will have come to you by text and include a link for you to automatically book yourselves into our session on May 8th. We are also in the process of contacting all our patients who do not have a mobile number. Whilst you are waiting for a first dose clinic with us you may receive an invitation from the NHS to book a place at a national mass vaccination site, who do seem to have supplies of first dose vaccine. If you do get an invitation please feel free to accept it as we currently have no real information as to when we will start receiving regular first dose deliveries. As soon as we know we will tell you. If your first dose was before February 17th and you have not yet had your second please call us. Next week we start sending invitations out to patients who received their first vaccination on February 23rd, 24th and 25th – please do not contact us about your second doses yet as we must prioritise patients who received their vaccine first.”

The table below shows the vaccination hubs associated with different surgeries in the district – we include updates from Facebook pages when we have them but don’t have them for all surgeries. The above gives a rough indication of where other local surgeries are likely to be with their rollout, however.

We understand many people are keen to be vaccinated but please try to be patient, the vaccine rollout is an enormous logistical challenge. GP surgeries are dealing with tens of thousands of vaccinations on top of their normal workload. If you have questions about when you’ll be vaccinated please either ask in our Facebook group or email GP surgeries rather than calling them. We will be interviewing someone next week – comment with a question on this post and we’ll do our best to ask it.

There continue to be regular updates in our Facebook group about vaccination locally – including from GP surgeries (see the Facebook group topic). If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious after receiving your vaccination).

Hospitals – local, national

There were no patients in Mechanical Ventilation beds locally between 18th March and 8th April, ie, for over three weeks. Now there is one, and one other Covid-19 patient in Gloucestershire hospitals – though 9 patients were admitted in the week to 25th April (it is a good sign that most are being discharged). People in hospital now are likely to have been infected a week or more ago, but while rates are low (see below), that there are still patients receiving ventilation is a reminder that the virus has not gone away completely. We wish the two people in hospital the best with their recovery, and hope that there will be no Covid-19 patients in Gloucestershire hospitals before long.

Source: NHS hospital activity

International context

While the number of people testing positive in the UK is reaching very low levels, across the world as a whole numbers are rising and are at their highest ever levels. Countries across Europe have high rates – though cases are now falling across the European Union, as they also appear to be currently in South America, and North America. Cases are rising rapidly in Asia – including particularly in India (and even the rapid rise is likely to be an undercount – the proportion of tests that are positive is very high and experts agree cases are being missed).

There is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over – the 7-day average number of people testing positive per day reached a new high on April 25th – 826,374 – and has been steady at around that level since (this partly reflects increased testing but mostly is a function of the fact that the virus is rampant in many countries, including India – where the 7 day average reached 365,000 people testing positive on April 30th).

Globally, over 3 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, with Our World in Data reporting the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) as rising again – to 13,431 on April 30th, approaching the global previous peak of 14,435 on January 26th. In the context of robust evidence that data on the number of people dying in India, to give just one example, undercounts significantly the scale of what is happening, it is likely that the number of people dying daily with their death attributed in some way to Covid-19 is as high as it has ever been.

For a good summary on what is happening in India, including links to fundraisers for oxygen and other medical supplies, food and other basic needs, see this 30 minute YouTube video from Cardiologist Dr Rohin Francis.

The United Kingdom is doing very well in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (73) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (121 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses) and United Arab Emirates (107), and Chile (78). Globally, the rate is 15 doses per 100 people. There is a real need to plan to improve global vaccination. You can Donate to treat, vaccinate and support people worldwide – which a few members of our Facebook group have reported doing to celebrate getting their own vaccination.

The chart above covers both first and second doses – but different countries have different strategies (the UK has maximised first doses, while other countries have pursued both first and second doses equally, which slows the first dose rate. Some other countries have used single dose vaccines – as the UK may do eventually). In terms of full vaccination, Israel has the highest proportion fully vaccinated (59%), Chile (35%), Bahrain (32%), and USA (31%) all have higher rates than the UK (22%) – though the UK’s rate is still very high in terms of global comparisons (for example India has just 2% of the population fully vaccinated).

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test (see full details at the end of this page). You can now do this whether or not you have symptoms. The link will tell you which type of test to book if you have symptoms or not. Twice weekly rapid tests are available to everyone in England without symptoms. If you have symptoms, there is a permanent unit at Hempsted Meadow in Gloucester, and a walk-in unit in Stratford Park. See this link for details of testing locations in Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms (or if you are asked to by contact tracers), self-isolate until you have a negative test – or for 10 days since your symptoms appeared if you test positive or are asked to by Test and Trace. 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.

The Government’s loosened restrictions on Monday 12 April:

  • “non-essential retail will be able to reopen
  • personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be able to reopen
  • public buildings such as libraries and community centres will be able to reopen
  • outdoor hospitality venues will be able to reopen, with table service only
  • most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) will be able to reopen
  • some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place
  • indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
  • all childcare and supervised activities will be allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children. Parent and child groups can take place indoors (as well as outdoors) for up to 15 people (children under 5 will not be counted in this number)
  • weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events will be able to take place for up to 15 people (anyone working is not included in this limit), including in indoor venues that are permitted to open or where an exemption applies. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not including private gardens
  • self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble
  • you should continue to minimise the amount that you travel where possible
  • care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits (following a rapid lateral flow test)”

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. We 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.