9th 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 [Monday] 17 May”, in other words – one week’s time.

Key data:

  • No-one from Stroud district or Gloucestershire as a whole died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, in the most recent week of data (to 23rd April). Data from the UK’s statistics agencies shows that 151,533 people living in the UK have died with their “death certificate mentioning COVID-19” as one of the causes – with another 290 people added to this total in the most recent week of data (compared to 402 the week before).
  • There are three people in Gloucestershire hospitals with Covid-19, one in a mechanical ventilation bed, and we wish them well with their recoveries. Nationally, the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital has been falling fast 101 people were admitted on the 27th April, compared to 165 seven days previously – and 4,577 at the peak on 12th January). The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals was 1,152 on the 6th May, down from 1,451 on the 29th 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 a little way to go. The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds is now 163 (6th May, down from 185 on the 30th 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.
  • Rates of the number of people testing positive per 100,000 people are still low in Stroud district and Gloucestershire: 13.3 per 100,000 in Stroud district, and 10 per 100,000 across Gloucestershire. The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Stroud is up slightly – 18 in the week compared to 14 in each of the previous two weeks, but still lower than in the week ending 31st March: when 19 people tested positive). Some of these 18 are likely to be people testing positive from a Lateral Flow Device without having symptoms. The ZOE app/Kings College London estimate is at 9 active symptomatic infections for the district (up from 7 – the lowest estimate by the team).
  • Very close to 100% of people aged 65 or over in Stroud district have had a first dose, and around 86% a second dose (up from 75% last week, and compared to compared to 79% for England). For 45-64 year olds, around 93% have had a first dose, and around 14% a second dose (89% and 20% for England). Far lower proportions of people aged 16-44 have had first (28%) / second (9%) doses – vaccinations are being made available to people aged 40-45, but otherwise only people in this age group who are clinically vulnerable, work in health or social care, or are a carer will have been offered vaccinations.
  • Across the UK, as of 9th May over 50 million doses have been delivered (53,041,048) and 35,371,669 people have received at least a first dose (67.2% of UK adults have had a first dose and 33.5% 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).
  • Things are looking good in the UK, but 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 – but has been falling since (this partly reflects testing capacity, including in India – where the 7 day average reached 390,000 people testing positive on May 8th, but many cases are likely being missed).
  • Globally, the situation remains concerning. Our World in Data report that the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) is hopefully falling again – to 12,828 on May 7th (before reaching the previous global peak of 14,435 on January 26th). However, 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 due 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

We now have the data for the month of April – and across Gloucestershire the number of people testing positive (212) is less than half what it was in March (557). There’s been a huge drop since December 2020 and January 2021 when over 5,500 people tested positive. The monthly number isn’t quite as low as in August 2020 (136), but that likely reflects better testing. As discussed below, just 0.2% of PCR tests in Gloucestershire (i.e. tests done on people with symptoms or to confirm positive Lateral Flow Device results for people with no symptoms) produce positive results at the moment – as low as it was last summer.

Across Gloucestershire, 64 people tested positive in the week to the 6th May (down from a total of 84 for the week to 21st April). 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 10 (i.e., one in every 10,000 people has tested positive in the past week) – one of the lowest rates in the UK.

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

18 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 6th May (slightly higher than the 15 and 14 in the two previous weeks). There were several days relatively recently where no specimens submitted resulted in positive tests – the most recent on 7th May (prior to that it also happened on the 27th, 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 13.3 – still very low, though now in line with lots of places around England. It is still below the England rate of 21.4 per 100,000 (meaning there are other places around the country with higher rates. The highest in England currently is Bolton with 100.2 per 100,000 (or 1 in every 1,000 people).

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 the very lowest level again: 0.1% of the 2,882 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 – a very similar number of tests. 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’. Across Gloucestershire, 0.2% of the 15,340 people tested by PCR in the 7 days to 4th May tested positive (and this hit a low of 0.1% on 1st May).

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at who is testing positive in Stroud district by age, we can see that no-one over 75 has tested postive for several weeks (the area in yellow at the top right of the chart below is older age groups in recent weeks). Below that age – those most likely to have had two doses of vaccine, there are low rates across all ages in recent weeks. Hopefully the vaccine effect will extend down the ages.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Stroud

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 4th May (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 Frampton, Whitminster and Eastington 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 18 people have tested positive across Stroud district, the remaining 15 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). Frampton, Whitminster and Eastington is the area with the highest rate in Gloucestershire (43.7 per 100,000). That this is the highest rate helps us understand how low prevalence of the virus is across the county – and indeed the country, as you can see the rate is close to the England average.

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 9 (nine) active symptomatic cases for the district – up by 2 from last week’s 7, but still lower than the previous week’s 11 by their measure. 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. The implication is that the PCR test positive total of 18 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 being so low, coupled with the low positivity rate for PCR tests suggests prevalence locally is very low now.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 16,011 people had a symptomtic infection on the 9th May, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This compares to 15,629 last week (a very slight rise, but still way off the 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

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 29th April (the most recent available data) there had been 519,965 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire. 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 2nd May on the right and the 14th February. Slightly fewer people have received a second dose by 2nd May (167,680) than had received a first dose 11 weeks ago (168,623). 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), but this seems to be getting tighter recently, perhaps due to supply, or just the logistics of this extremely large and long vaccination programme. 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 (just 18,968 people have had a first dose in the 5 weeks since 28th March, compared to 141,423 in the 5 weeks before that).

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 very close to 100% of people aged 65 or over in Stroud district have had a first dose, and around 86% a second dose (up from 75% last week, and compared to compared to 79% for England). For 45-64 year olds, around 93% have had a first dose, and around 14% a second dose (89% and 20% for England). Far lower proportions of people aged 16-44 have had first (28%) / second (9%) doses – vaccinations are being made available to people aged 40-45, but otherwise only people in this age group who are clinically vulnerable, work in health or social care, or are a carer will have been offered vaccinations. Rates are generally the same in Stroud district as they are for Gloucestershire, the South West, and England as a whole, slightly ahead for 2nd doses for people aged 65 and over, slightly behind for second doses for people aged 45-64 and 1st and second doses for people aged 16-44. This largely reflects the different age profiles of the different areas, probably.

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.

We’ve published five videos of clips from an interview with Dr Tom Malins (click to watch on Youtube). Please watch/share on Facebook via the link. And 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 4th May says “The [Beeches] vaccination hub in Stroud continued over the bank holiday weekend unabated with 32% of our registered adult population having now received two doses of Covid vaccine, equivalent to 52% of Cohorts 1-9. That’s 5,231 first doses and 2,499 second doses. As you may have seen last week; over 40s can now book to be vaccinated at one of the regional hubs. If you would prefer to wait, we will of course invite you locally in due course as supplies allow. Given that the vaccine takes up to 3 weeks to kick in after the first dose; Sooner is, however, better than later!”

Minchinhampton surgery update from 29th April reads: “

Covid-19 Vaccination Update for Minchinhampton patients: “1st vaccinations completed to date: 5,042, 2nd vaccinations completed to date: 2,319… If you had your 1st Pfizer vaccination on or before 25th February please contact the surgery to arrange your second. (Top tip: our phones tend to be a bit quieter in the afternoon ….)”

No update from Rowcroft Medical Centre since 29th April which said “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).

National context

For more national context see this week’s Independent SAGE briefing – they’ve now done one every week for a year. This one includes Prof Christina Pagel covering data – including on variants of the virus.

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 – but has been falling since (this partly reflects testing capacity, including in India – where the 7 day average reached 390,000 people testing positive on May 8th, but many cases are likely being missed).

Globally, over 3.25 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. Our World in Data report the number of people to be reported as dying per day (on a 7-day average basis) is hopefully falling again – to 12,828 on May 7th (before reaching the previous global peak of 14,435 on January 26th). However, 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 due to Covid-19 is as high as it has ever been.

In terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths relative to the population, the United Kingdom has a fairly high rate (1,884), but lower than the worst countries – such as Hungary (2,951), Czechia (2,768). The UK rate is higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,578), and for North America (1,447) and South America (1,629) as a whole – but broadly in line with those continents (and this may reflect differences in testing/attribution). However, there are some countries with lower deaths rates – including Germany (1,012 – a little over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (166 and 141 per million), and Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, and Vietnam have rates that barely register compared to the worst hit areas.

The United Kingdom is doing very well in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses per 100 people (77) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (121 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses), United Arab Emirates (113), and Chile (81). Globally, the rate is 16 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 (37%), Bahrain (34%), and USA (34%) all have higher rates than the UK (26%) – though the UK’s rate is still very high in terms of global comparisons (for example India has just 2.5% 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.