24th 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

Current government guidance, which changed on 17th May, is available on the gov.uk website – click for full details. A summary is included at the end of this update. Please also read this additional government guidance: “Be careful: a new COVID-19 variant is spreading in some parts of England

Key data:

  • There are 5 people in Gloucestershire hospitals with Covid-19 (as of 18th May, the most recent data). Two are in mechanical ventilation beds. We wish these people well with their recovery. While these numbers are much lower than they have been (peaking at over 250), it is notable that people continue to be either hospitalised or identified as having the virus when in hospital, and that there has been a (small) rise, recently. In the week to 16th May, 22 people were admitted with known COVID-19 or diagnosed in hospital with COVID-19. The previous week (to 9th May) 17 people were admitted, and the week before (to 2nd May), 6 people.
  • The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Stroud has fallen, and the number from the week previously revised down (16 this week, 24 rather than 26 in the week before). This is the same as the revised number for two weeks ago. While there’s been the suggestion of a rising trend recently (including some unhelpful/inaccurate coverage in both local papers), the number of people testing positive in the week to 19th May is lower than in the week to 31st March. The Kings College London/ZOE app also estimates 16 active symptomatic infections in the district (up 1 by their measure on last week, but broadly flat). See charts below. It’s too early to say if the trend is falling again, but it’s more accurately described as “broadly flat” than as “rising” at this point.
  • As of 16th May, 75% of adults, and 61% of the total population in Stroud district, had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is higher than across England as a whole – where 67% of adults and 54% of the population as a whole had received a first dose. 43% of adults and 35% of the total population of Stroud district had received second doses (England: 38% adults and 30% total population).
  • No-one from Stroud district died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, in either of the three most recent weeks of data (to 7th May). No-one from Stroud district has died within 28 days of a positive test for coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) since 20th March (data to 15th May).
  • However, two more people from elsewhere in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week of data (to 7th May). In total, 1185 people from Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. Meanwhile, data from the UK’s statistics agencies shows that 151,904 people living in the UK have died with their “death certificate mentioning COVID-19” as one of the causes. The number of people dying each week continues to fall – 139 people in the week to 7th May, compared to this total in the most recent week of data (compared to 232 in the week before).
  • Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 17,719 – up 1,801 (11.3%) on the previous week (this is likely to relate to changes in variants or people’s behaviour before the May 17th changes, which will only just be factoring into the numbers of people testing positive). The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals continues to fall: 908 on the 20th May, down from 991 on the 13th May (and from a peak of 39,249 on 18th January). We send our best for the recovery of all Covid-19 patients in hospital.
  • There is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over – the 7-day average number of people testing positive per day has been falling sharply since the high on April 25th of 826,374, and it seems clear cases are now falling in India which is very welcome news. However, the number of people testing positive is still very high at 597,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to May 22nd), and South America as a continent is still seeing increases.
  • Further detail and charts on the above and more are below:

People who have tested positive

Across Gloucestershire, 48 people tested positive in the week to the 19th May (down from a total of 59 for the week to 12th May). The number of people to test positive in a week in the county has been higher than this in every week since week-ending 2nd September 2020. 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 7.5 (i.e., one in every 13,333 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

16 people from Stroud district tested positive in the most recent week – to 19th May. The rate per 100,000 people in Stroud district is for the past 7 days is 13.3 (one in roughly every 7,500 people), down from 21.7 last week. This is very low, though higher than many places around England with even lower rates. It is lower than the UK rate of 21.3 per 100,000 (roughly one in every 4,700 people). The highest in the UK currently is Bolton with 434 per 100,000 (or 1 in every approximatey 230 people) and four other places have rates above 100 per 100,000 (Blackburn with Darwen: 215 per 100,000; Bedford – 143, Glasgow City – 123, and East Renfrewshire – 116).

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 confirm that the recent apparent decline in people testing positive per week is accurate, and not just the result of fewer tests: 0.3% of 3,037 PCR tests done in the 7 days to 18th May have returned positive results, compared to 0.6% of the 3,117 done in the 7 days to 11th May. Across Gloucestershire, 0.2% of the 15,814 people tested by PCR in the 7 days to 18th May tested positive (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 what looks like a controlled outbreak at a school (circled in red are the highest recent rates locally, among people aged 10-14) and low numbers of people in other age groups. There are a couple of positive tests of people aged 80-89, which has not been happening in recent weeks. Hopefully, these will be people who have been vaccinated and even though they are among the small proportion who can still acquire an infection, they will be protected against severe disease.

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 Berkeley & Sharpness, but describing this as “highest” feels strange given this is only 4 cases (up from 2 in the previous week. In Wotton-under-Edge and Kingswood where 10 people testing positive in the previous week, at most 2 have tested positive in the week to 18th May. That looks a lot like a very controlled outbreak, with transmission interrupted by isolation and contact tracing. There are 4 cases in Rodborough and Thrupp, and 3 in Dursley. Together, these three areas account for 11 of the 16 people testing positive in Stroud district in the week (so there are at most 5 other areas of the district where one person has tested positive, or at least 3 areas with between 1 and 2 people testing positive in the past week). Once again, almost all areas in Stroud district and the surrounding areas across the county and beyond – with at most 2 positive tests in the week to 18th 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). This week they estimate 16 people with active symptomatic infections in the district (the same as the number that have tested positive) – up just 1 (one) from last week by their measure, and broadly flat for several weeks.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 38,498 people had a symptomtic infection on the 24th May, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users. This is up from 32,647 last week (17th May).

While there is clearly a small rise in these estimates, and we’d rather see numbers falling, Professor Tim Spector said of the previous week’s data: “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”, and it’s likely this still applies.

Local Hospitals

There has been a notable increase in the number of patients being admitted to Gloucestershire hospitals/diagnosed in hospital with COVID-19 in recent weeks. The chart below shows how the number of people being admitted /diagnosed over the previous 7 days period has risen – as it did at the start of October. It appears to be flat most recently, and could decline rather than following the rapid increase it did over the Autumn/Winter. At present, most people are being discharged relatively quickly. The increase in admissions is likely to relate to infections acquired at least a week previously, so we can hope that with recent declines in the number of people testing positive, the increase here is also a ‘blip’.

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that, in total and as of the 16th May (the most recent available data) there had been 590,526 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire (however, the local NHS has announced they have since passed 600,000 doses). The chart below shows how the rate at which first doses are being delivered is picking up again after a flat April. There are 11 weeks between the 16th May on the right and the 28th February. Slightly more people have received a second dose by 16th May (217,461) than had received a first dose 11 weeks ago (213,890); 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 should increase as second doses are now due to be brought forward for many people (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 charts below shows progress towards completion of the vaccination rollout locally. The first chart shows how the total population of Stroud district breaks down by age band (in the 2019 Office for National Statistics estimate). The rows below show the number of people in each age band who have been partially or fully vaccinated. The age bands are those given by NHS England so we have a large 16-44 age band (made up mainly of people who are yet to become eligible – vaccination only recently opened up to people aged 32 or over). The colours match down the rows, with blank/white gaps where people are yet to be invited or had not (yet) taken up an invitation as of 16th May. As you can see, essentially everyone aged 70+ is fully vaccinated (in reality a few have not been, but the number/proportion is too small to show up on the graph). Between the aged of 45 and 69, the vast majority have had a first dose and are partially vaccinated, but few have yet had their second dose.

The chart below shows uses the same data to give us an idea of the proportion of the total population of Stroud that is fully vaccinated (the bottom row of the above chart), partially vaccinated (the middle row), or unvaccinated (the blank/white gaps). This reveals that 35% of the Stroud population is fully vaccinated, 30% partially vaccinated, and 39% unvaccinated (with a big chunk of this being because these are children are are not, and may not ever, be eligble for COVID-19 vaccinations). These proportions are roughly similar across Gloucestershire, the South West and England (though slightly higher proportions have been vaccinated in Stroud district, largely because the area has a higher proportion of people who are older and therefore eligible for vaccination earlier).

There are various estimates for the efficacy of the vaccines in terms of their ability to prevent symptomatic disease, hospitalisation, mortality, infection of any kind (including asymptomatic), and transmission. The chart below offers a summary from Public Health England, from their most recent “vaccine surveillance report”, showing the estimates for the two main vaccines used the the UK, for either 1 dose or 2, and for the different outcomes – and how confident PHE are in these estimates of efficacy. These numbers are based on the real-world use of the vaccines (they are the result of comparing how many people have been hospitalised with and without being vaccinated. They are estimates because they don’t cover everyone, and confidence is higher if there are larger numbers of people in the ‘sample’, or several studies with similar results).

The PHE table below doesn’t explore the effectiveness against different variants, but PHE have published some analysis on effectiveness against the new B1.617.2 variant (first identified in India) recently. This is early data and hotly debated, but there is a helpful summary from John Burn-Murdoch at the Financial Times, who says in one of several tweets in a useful thread: “overall takeaway from this preliminary vaccine efficacy data remains:

• First dose protection looks be around one-third lower against B.1.617.2, both for Pfizer and AstraZeneca

• Second dose protection holds up pretty well, both for Pfizer and AstraZeneca”.

People aged 32 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, Cirencester 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.

Minchinhampton surgery update from 21st May reads: “Covid-19 Vaccination Update for Minchinhampton patients: 1st vaccinations completed to date: 5,115, 2nd vaccinations completed to date: 3,581. The next vaccination clinics are planned for… 28th May at Rowcroft Medical Centre and 26th May at Horsfall House”.

No vaccination update from Prices Mill surgery update since 14th May when they said “we will also be calling you if you choose not to take up [the mass vaccination offer for, then, 38+ year olds – now 32+], as soon as our supplies allow.”

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

Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 17,719 – up 1,801 (11.3%) on the previous week (this is likely to relate to changes in variants or people’s behaviour before the May 17th changes, which will only just be factoring into the numbers of people testing positive).

The total number of people with the virus in UK hospitals continues to fall: 908 on the 20th May, down from 991 on the 13th 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 was 123 on 20th May – little changed from 129 on the 13th May, but still much lower than the peak of 4,077 people on 24th January 2021). The lowest last summer was 60 on 28th August. We send our best for the recovery of all Covid-19 patients in hospital. The numbers of people dying also continue to fall – but we know it takes time for people to get sick, and certainly sick enough to die, and so these numbers do not reflect current changes in restrictions, or infections.

See a summary of the trends on the government dashboard at this link.

Professor Christina Pagel provides a very helpful summary twitter thread on the latest national data (you should be able to read this regardless of whether you have a twitter account).

This includes that:

The B.1.617.2 variant is the dominant variant in the UK as of around now – based on sequenced cases (see Professor Pagel’s chart below)

[South West] has v few cases [56, 2% of all cases] and most of its B.1.617.2 cases are travellers [35 or 63% of cases of this variant]”

“we’ve had 2 epidemics – 1 declining (B.1.1.7) and 1 growing (B.1.617.2). While B.1.1.7 remained dominant, it masked the growth of B.1.617.2 and kept case numbers down”

Professor Pagel believes “this will shift – assuming it keeps growing”, and argues “The data do NOT support moving to step 4 of the roadmap unless the current risk assessment of B.1.617.2 reduces significantly”. However, there has been considerable debate about the PHE reports on twitter. John-Burn Murdoch has a second thread as well as the one mentioned above, if you are interested you can also read:

International context

While – aside from the issue of the new variant – the picture in the UK is broadly good, there is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over – the 7-day average number of people testing positive per day has been falling sharply since the high on April 25th of 826,374, and it seems clear cases are now falling in India which is very welcome news. However, the number of people testing positive is still very high at 597,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to May 22nd), and South America as a continent is still seeing increases.

Globally, over 3.4 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 Economist has published analysis estimating the true figure is around 10 million). 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 12,092 on May 22nd, though this number is also likely to be an undercount due to minimal/incomplete data collection in many countries.

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 (3,051), Czechia (2,802), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,776). The UK rate is slightly higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,615), and for North America (1,469) and South America (1,744) 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 (1,043 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (168 and 144 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 (88) – 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 (122), and Chile (90). Globally, the rate is 21 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 (40%), Bahrain (40%), and USA (39%) all have higher rates than the UK (32.5%) – though the UK’s rate is still very high in terms of global comparisons (for example India has just 3.2% 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.

A summary of key changes and similarities with the government guidance since May 17th is copied below:

  • “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 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.