17th 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

Before this week’s data update for Stroud, Gloucestershire and beyond, is a quote from the government website acting as a summary of current guidance from today, 17th May:

  • “You should continue to work from home if you can. When travelling within the UK, you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance.
  • You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Gathering limits will be eased. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings will be limited to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • New guidance on meeting friends and family will emphasise personal responsibility rather than government rules. Instead of instructing you to stay 2m apart from anyone you don’t live with, you will be encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Remember that the risks of close contact may be greater for some people than others and in some settings and circumstances, there will be specific guidance that you will need to follow even when you are with friends and family.
  • Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas will be permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
  • People will be able to attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.
  • Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen.
  • Organised indoor sport will be able to take place for all (this includes gym classes). This must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • All holiday accommodation will be open (including hotels and B&Bs). This can be used by groups of up to 6 or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble, if eligible).
  • Funeral attendance will no longer be limited to 30 people, but will be determined by how many people the COVID-secure venue can safely accommodate with social distancing. Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events will be increased to 30 people. Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings, will also be able to take place with 30 people.
  • The rules for care home residents visiting out and receiving visitors will change, allowing up to five named visitors (two at any one time), provided visitors test negative for COVID-19.
  • All higher education students will be able to access in-person teaching.
  • Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits will increase to 30 people (not including under 5s)
  • There will no longer be a legal restriction or permitted reason required to travel internationally. There will be a traffic light system for international travel, and you must follow the rules when returning to England depending on whether you return from a red, amber or green list country.”

If you have questions about any of the above, please ask in our Facebook group and we will do our best to explain/signpost to further information.

Please also read this additional government guidance: “Be careful: a new COVID-19 variant is spreading in some parts of England

Key data:

  • No-one from Stroud district or Gloucestershire as a whole died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, in either of the two most recent weeks of data (to 30th April). Data from the UK’s statistics agencies shows that 151,765 people living in the UK have died with their “death certificate mentioning COVID-19” as one of the causes – with another 232 people added to this total in the most recent week of data (compared to 290 the week before).
  • There is one person in a Gloucestershire hospital with Covid-19. They are in a mechanical ventilation bed, and we wish them well with their recovery.
  • For the first time since 14th September 2020 the total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals is below 1,000: 991 on the 13th May, down from 1,155 on the 6th May (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 129 (13th May, down from 163 on the 6th May, 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.
  • The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Stroud is up slightly – 26 in the week compared to 18 last week and just 5 a few weeks ago, but is still lower than in the week ending 17st March: when 36 people tested positive). 10 of the people testing positive live in Wotton-under-Edge and Kingswood, and 2 or fewer people have tested positive in all other parts of the district other than Dursley, and Ebley and Randwick (3 each). Rates of the number of people testing positive per 100,000 people are still low locally: 10 per 100,000 across Gloucestershire (same as last week) and 21.7 per 100,000 in Stroud district. The rate in Stroud district is double what it was on 20th April and 6 times higher than on the 11th April but… in the context of still being low. Nonetheless, with more loosening of restrictions it’s worth a reminder not to be complacent or we could see cases rising significantly again (if in a context where most of those most at risk have been vaccinated).
  • In Stroud district 67% of adults, 55% of the total population, have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is higher than across England as a whole – where 56% of adults and 45% of the population as a whole have had a first dose. 33% of adults and 27% of the total population of Stroud district have had second doses. We’ve shared a piece this week looking at when the UK might reach population immunity thresholds estimated at between 69-75% of the total population having had the virus and/or been vaccinated (though even at that point there may be some caveats around different areas where rates of vaccination/prior infection are lower). Even adding people who’ve had the virus to the 55% of the total population to have had at least one dose locally, we’re still some distance from that point.
  • 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 though it has been falling sharply since, and it appears cases are now falling in India which is very welcome news – it is still very high at 690,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to May 15th).
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 59 people tested positive in the week to the 12th May (down from a total of 68 for the week to 5th May). The number of people testing positive across the county is falling slowly – 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

26 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 12th May (quite a rise over the last few weeks from a low of 5 in the week to 7th April). There have still been several days relatively recently where no specimens submitted resulted in positive tests – the most recent on 10th and 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 21.7 – still low, though now in line with lots of places around England. It is roughly in line with the UK rate of 23.8 per 100,000 (meaning there are other places around the country with higher rates. The highest in England currently is Bolton with 255 per 100,000 (or 1 in every approximatey 390 people). That the number of people testing positive across Gloucestershire as a whole is falling while the numbers rise in Stroud district tells us that a greater proportion of positive tests in the county are in Stroud district, and that numbers are falling in the rest of the county as a whole.

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 a little cause for concern. The positivity rate is still low – just 0.6% of the 3,111 tests done in the past 7 days in the district came back positive (compared to over 7% during the autumn/winter peaks). However, there is a clear sharp rise, and it comes in the context of the number of tests being done also rising. From a low base, and still at low levels, it is clear that the number of infections is rising. Hopefully, if people testing positive and their contacts isolate, and people continue to be cautious even as restrictions ease, this rise can be kept in check (and high numbers of people have now been vaccinated – particularly those most at risk, so this rise in infections isn’t as concerning at it was previously). Across Gloucestershire, 0.2% of the 16,621 people tested by PCR in the 7 days to 11th May tested positive (this hit a low of 0.1% on 1st May). That it is still this low across Gloucestershire given the rise in Stroud district suggests rates are falling across the rest of the county.

Source: gov.uk dashboard

Looking at who is testing positive in Stroud district by age, we can see that no-one over 70 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), and no-one over 65 in the most recent week. This suggests a vaccine effect – as you can see that people in these age groups tested positive in high numbers until recently. There are low rates across all ages in recent weeks (though none among 30-44 year olds in the most recent week), highest among 10-14 and 20-24. Hopefully these are cases among people who – from their age alone – we would expect to have the mildest symptoms, and the vaccine effect will continue to extend down the ages.

Source: gov.uk dashboard for Stroud

Looking at smaller areas, the government’s map shows the highest rate in the district – and indeed the county – is Wotton-under-Edge and Kingswood with 10 people testing positive in the week, giving a 7-day rolling rate of 112.7. A further 3 people have tested positive in neighbouring Dursley, and these could plausibly all be household contacts of an initial case or two, potentially associated with a single workplace or at a school (hence the 10-14 cases referred to above). Once again, 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 11th 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).

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).

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 32,647 people had a symptomtic infection on the 16th May, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. “The percentage of vaccinated ZOE app contributors that takes part in the infection survey now exceeds 89%, far higher than the rate of vaccination in the general UK population. To calculate incidence rates, ZOE is now adjusting its figures to more closely match the rate of vaccination in the general population to give the new incidence and prevalence estimates.

According to updated ZOE COVID Study figures, there are currently 2,782 new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on swab test data from up to five days ago. This compares to 1,685 daily cases a week ago, an increase of 65% from last week. The figures from last week have also been updated to reflect the new methodology.”

While there is a clear rise in these estimates, Professor Tim Spector says: “While the increase in cases this week is likely to be real, the overall numbers are still just a fraction of what they were at the height of the pandemic. Increases of this size are to be expected with changes in social behaviour as restriction ease. We are also seeing milder forms of COVID-19 within vaccinated groups and younger people presenting with much less respiratory problems than previously.”

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 553,158 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 9th May on the right and the 21st February. Slightly fewer people have received a second dose by 9th May (190,287) than had received a first dose 11 weeks ago (191,885), but 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). This seems to be getting tighter recently, perhaps due to supply, or just the logistics of this extremely large and long vaccination programme – but second doses are now due to be brought forward (lookout for a text if you are past or approaching 8 weeks since your first dose and haven’t had a second dose yet). 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 until recently, but these are now rising nicely again (around 10,000 had first doses in the most recent week, compared to around 4,000 in the week before that).

The chart below shows progress towards completion of the vaccination rollout locally, and compares this with proportions of the total population that have received one or two doses. The latter numbers give us an approximation of progress to ‘population (or herd) immunity’ – but we’d need to add a proportion for people who have prior infection from the virus and are unlikely to be reinfected, but have not been vaccinated.

The chart shows that in Stroud district 67% of adults have received a first dose – 55% of the total population. This is higher than in for Gloucestershire, the South West, and England as a whole – where 56% of adults and 45% of the population as a whole have had a first dose. This largely reflects different demographics (more people in Stroud district have been eligible to be invited for vaccination because of their age or other reasons to be in the priority groups), but will also include some impacts from different levels of takeup. In terms of second doses, 33% of adults and 27% of the total population of Stroud district have had them, compared to 29% (24%) of the England population.

Source: NHS England

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.

What is stark about the graph below is that 97% of people aged 65 or older in Stroud district have now had a second dose – and this is a much higher proportion than for Gloucestershire, the South West, and England – fully 10 percentage points higher than for England (87%). On the other hand, second doses are much lower for people aged 45-64 in Stroud district – these are largely the people whose second doses will be being broght forward (50+), so Stroud district will catch up here.

Stroud district is also ahead of other areas in terms of the numbers of people aged 16-44 to have received a first dose: 15% compared to 11% across the South West and England.

People aged 38 and over can now book to be vaccinated at one of the mass vaccination sites via this link (and we expect this age to drop to 35 over the days to come), 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.

Prices Mill surgery update on 10th May says “We’ve been able to restart first doses again in earnest due to an increase in deliveries but had to tinker with our protocols at the last minute last week with the latest update from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation: Under 40s and pregnant women receiving their first dose should now be offered Pfizer/Moderna in prefence to AZ as long as it does not adversely delay their vaccination. Going forward, our invitations will reflect this.Happily 69% of our adult population have now received their first dose and 35%, their second. That’s more than half of Cohorts 1-9 having both doses. Still no more cases in the practice” and “we will also be calling you if you choose not to take up [the mass vaccination offer for 38+ year olds], as soon as our supplies allow.”

Minchinhampton surgery update from 10th May reads: “1st vaccinations completed to date: 5,045, 2nd vaccinations completed to date: 2,630. The next vaccination clinics are planned for… 18th May at Horsfall House (1st & 2nd AstraZeneca vaccinations). Thank you to everyone who braved the weather to get to us at the weekend. We are getting there!”

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…. We are well on our way through our second dose vaccination clinics… If your first dose was before February 17th and you have not yet had your second please call us.” (given this was two weeks ago, it would not apply for people who had a first dose before March 3rd)

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’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“.

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 Kit Yates covering data – including on variants of the virus (first 20 minutes of the video).

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 sharply since, and it appears cases are now falling in India which is very welcome news – but is still very high at 690,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to May 15th).

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 falling again – to 12,536 on May 14th (before reaching the previous global peak of 14,435 on January 26th). However, it is worth remembering that there is robust evidence that data on the number of people dying in India, to give just one example, undercounts significantly the scale of the number of people who have died.

In terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths relative to the population, the United Kingdom has a fairly high rate (1,885), but lower than the worst countries – such as Hungary (3,014), Czechia (2,791), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,737). The UK rate is higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,600), and for North America (1,458) and South America (1,686) 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 (1,027 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (168 and 143 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 (83) – behind only a few other countries like Israel (122 – ie, moving into enough doses to cover everyone, but some will be second doses), United Arab Emirates (116), and Chile (87). Globally, the rate is 19 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 mark 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 (39%), Bahrain (37%), and USA (36%) all have higher rates than the UK (29%) – though the UK’s rate is still very high in terms of global comparisons (for example India has just 2.9% of the population fully vaccinated).

Notes

The core advice remains: please book a test. 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 meet outside when possible, keep indoor spaces well ventilated with fresh air, 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.

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. We’re also volunteers with no public health expertise – collating and signposting to other sources for guidance.

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.