New government guidance has been out since 19th July – many things that were legal requirements no longer are, but some are still advised (see the NHS “How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus” page). Please also read our SCCR statement on the current situation, which underlines that “we can still choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others“, when numbers of infections locally are high, and there are people in our community who have do not have the protection granted by vaccination (including those who cannot have jabs, or do not benefit as much from them because of a health condition/treatment).
- The good news is that the number of people to have tested positive across the UK in the past 7 days is falling, down to 187,548 – 80,327 fewer people testing positive in the week compared to the previous week (a 30% decrease). Daily cases appear to have peaked on the 15th July, by the date samples were submitted, at 60,724, and have been falling since (26,505 people who submitted tests on the 29th July have received positive results). Numbers may rise again, and caution is still important as rates, particularly locally, are high but – if nothing else – the fall over the last week is a much better sign than continued rises would have been.
- 50 patients were admitted/diagnosed in hospital with Covid-19 in the week to the 25th July – this is lower than the previous week when 60 such patients were admitted. While many are being discharged fairly quickly, there are now 22 people in Gloucestershire hospitals with Covid-19 (as of 27th July, the most recent data), up from 19 last week. One person is in a mechanical ventilation bed, and the local hospital team re-opened a Covid-19 specific Intensive Care Unit last week.
- Both Stroud district and Gloucestershire as a whole recorded falls in the numbers of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device (in the week to 28th July compared to the previous week): 278 in Stroud district (down from 554), and across Gloucestershire (down from 2,444). These are dramatic falls after dramatic spikes, but leave weekly numbers still high. We know not everyone gets tested. The ZOE app estimates 1,235 people in Stroud district have active symptomatic infections – which is up 142 on last week and equates to around 1 in every 100 people in the district (high, but a little lower than the rate for England as a whole estimated by the ONS for the week to 24th July: 1 in every 65 people). By next week, we should have a better idea of whether there is a new falling trend.
- Across Gloucestershire the number of people to test positive in the most recent week is around 250 per 100,000 people or roughly one in every 400 people. ZOE don’t provide a number for Gloucestershire as a whole.
- In Stroud district, the rate is highest in is Leonard Stanley and Uley, where 24 people have tested positive in the past week (down from 49 the previous week), giving a rate of 347 per 100,000 (or more than 1 in every 280 people).
- After weeks where no-one from Gloucestershire had died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate, 3 people have died in the past four weeks for which data on death certificates is available (to 16th July), and a further 3 have died within 28 days of a positive test in the days since (data to 28th July). The total number of people from Gloucestershire to die with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate is now 1,189 (and 200 people have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate from Stroud district).
- The number of people in hospital with the virus nationally may have hit a peak. At 5,916 on the 29th July, it is slightly lower than each of the last three days (peaking at 6,048 on the 28th July). We know hospitalisations lag infections, so this flattening is an indication that the number of infections really is falling/becoming associated with people at lower risk of hospitalisation (younger unvaccinated people / fully vaccinated people).
- Across Stroud district, around three quarters of the population have received at least one dose (89% of adults), with 62% fully vaccinated (75% of adults). People aged 18-29 have only recently started to be invited, but already 73% have had a first dose.
- There is a long way to go globally before the pandemic is over. The number of people testing positive has been rising since June 19th to 585,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to July 31st) – driven by rises in countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America.
- Further detail and charts on the above and more are below.
The first chart shows a comparison of the key data for Gloucestershire. You can see how the number of people testing positive has shot up recently – to the highest ever number for a week, and then started to fall. The age profile is very different (see below) – in large part because of vaccination, and – so far – far fewer people are ending up in hospital – again, in part because many people are vaccinated, and experiencing milder cases if they test positive as a result. However, it’s clear that the number of people being admitted to hospital has risen (purple-dashed line) – at a lag of a few weeks from the number testing positive as we’d expect. That is also feeding into a sustained number of people staying in hospital (red block). The numbers in hospital are currently relatively low – but you can see how sharply they rose in the second wave. It’s too early to say this won’t happen again this time, though we can hope that with high proportions of people, especially those most at risk, having been fully vaccinated, hospitalisations and deaths will be lower.
In the chart below from @JoeGreenHealth the solid blue bars represent CoVID patients in Gloucestershire Hospitals beds, while “the blue dotted line represents the jaw dropping numbers @gloshospitals would have seen without vaccination!” (if the case:beds ratio had been the same as in the previous wave) – up to around 300 rather than the 22 currently.
People who have tested positive
Rates of people testing positive per 100,000 people have been falling across the county but are still high at around 200-350 per 100,000 people (around the levels they were at the end of June, and well above the levels in March – May). Rates are highest in Gloucester, with Stroud district not far behind). The rate in Stroud district – 248 per 100,000 on 27th July – is still higher than it was on any date from 7th March – 14th July. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire, or districts within it, on the government’s dashboard, and there is more information below.
The number of people testing positive by PCR or Lateral Flow Device in Gloucestershire has fallen by is still high – 1,577 people tested positive for the first time in the week to 28th July. It’s worth adding that the age profile of those testing positive in the current ‘wave’ is very different to January – see chart below.
Though there has been a very considerable increase, this is associated mainly with younger people. That does not mean it’s not a problem, but it does suggest that vaccination is working well in the groups most likely to be fully vaccinated (most people aged over 35 should have had time to get two jabs by now, but rates of full vaccination are much higher for people over 60, in part because of the longer time they’ve had to decide to take up the offer). The chart below shows the difference between people aged over and under 60. Over the week to the 27th July, 1,548 people aged under 60 tested positive in Gloucestershire (94.3% of those to test positive), compared to 89 people aged 60 or over (5.7% of the total – roughly the same proportion as last week). Cases did rise a little among over 60s – but you can see how different the relationship is now to in the ‘second wave’ – when rates among under and over 60s were very similar (over 60s were more likely to test positive in the ‘first wave’ because only people being admitted to hospital were able to access tests).
The highest rate in Gloucestershire is in Tuffley, where 27 people tested positive in the 7 days to 27th July, giving a rate of 453 per 100,000. In Stroud district, the rate is highest in is Leonard Stanley and Uley, where 24 people have tested positive in the past week (down from 49 the previous week), giving a rate of 347 per 100,000 (or more than 1 in every 280 people).
Looking at different areas of Stroud district, we can see that most areas experienced a higher number of peopletesting positive in the recent weeks than at any time since August last year. The increasing numbers in Stroud Town, Cam, Dursley, and Ebley & Randwick have been particularly dramatic – likely associated with younger populations in these areas (less likely to be fully vaccinated).
You can enter your postcode into the government’s dashboard to get more data on your local area.
If we look at the number of PCR tests being done in Gloucestershire, we can see the changes in the number of people testing positive aren’t just about changes in the numbers of tests being done. There has been a notable fall in the proportion of tests that return positive results (7.6% of the 23,442 people tested by PCR in the 7 days to 26th July tested positive, compared to a low of 0.2% between 24th April – 13th, and 16-21st May). There are a few things to say about the chart below:
- The number of people being tested has falled, but is still roughly as high as it was at the peak in January. However, it’s not the case that we’re only finding more cases because more people are being tested.
- The proportion testing positive is lower than last week but still very high. The proportion has not reached as high as it was in the January peak (11.9%) when testing capacity was overloaded, but is still higher than any point between 15th January 2021 and 13th July 2021.
- As you can see from the previous peaks, the trend can turn very quickly. In previous instances this appears to have been primarily because of the introduction of stricter restrictions, but this time infections may have hit a wall of vaccinated/previously infected people meaning it has run out of ‘susceptible’ people to infect. Or isolation of people who test positive and quarantining of contacts could break transmission. It’s hard to know whether the recent drop will be sustained (as in January 2021), or there will be another rise after the drop (as in November/December 2020)
In Stroud District specifically, 278 people tested positive in the most recent week – to 28th July. This is back down to roughly the level of a fortnight ago (292), but still very high. As for Gloucestershire as a whole, the age breakdown is now very different (and more people will have had the virus in a week at the peak in the first wave but not been tested).
We do 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 1,235 people with active symptomatic infections in the district – up 142 on a week ago, and now exceeding the level estimated for the January peak.
- Everyone 18 or over should’ve been contacted by their GP surgery and invited to book their vaccination at either The Vale, Beeches Green or Rowcroft, depending on which surgery they’re registered with. If anyone has not been contacted, please ring your GP.
- Alternatively, use the national booking system for other sites (including beyond Stroud district) or “Find a walk-in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination” website and enter your postcode to find dates and times of sessions and the vaccines being offered (first doses or seconds eight weeks after your first, Pfizer, AZ, or Moderna – the latter in Bristol at least)
- The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has issued new advice that some children should be offered vaccination for COVID-19. Government hasn’t adopted this advice yet, but they’ve implemented the rest of what the JCVI have said, so it’ll be a matter of time. The JCVI list is:
- children and young people aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious COVID-19,
- children and young people aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of persons (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed
- children who are within three months of their 18th birthday
Data from the NHS on vaccinations shows that:
Across Stroud district, around 62% of the population are fully vaccinated, with a further 13% having received a first but not a second dose (75% of the population has received at least one dose). People aged 18-29 have only recently started to be invited, but already 73% have had a first dose. However, an estimated 2,931 people in the district aged 50 and over have not taken up the offer of vaccination. An estimated 8,608 people aged 18-50 have not yet taken up the offer of vaccination, but vaccination has not been available to them for as long.
Rates are similar across Gloucestershire and the South West. In England as a whole 57% of the population are now estimated to be fully vaccinated and a further 13% have had one dose (leaving 30% unvaccinated – many of whom are not eligible due to being under 16). Rates locally and nationally are much higher than for the world as a whole – where only 15% are fully vaccinated and less than 1 in 3 have received at least one dose. In many countries, under 5% of the population has received at least one dose.
As of the 18th July (the most recent available data) there had been 865,915 Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered in Gloucestershire. 26,312 doses were delivered in the week, the highest weekly number since the week to 20th June. More people have received a second dose as received a first 9 weeks ago (389,454 compared to 387,560).
Public Health England are publishing weekly estimates of vaccine effectiveness based on stuies on the real-world data. The latest report (to 29th July) shows, for example:
- One dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca reduces mortality by 70-85% (medium confidence).
- One dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca reduces transmission by 35-50% (low confidence).
- Two doses of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca reduces hospitalisation by 80-99% (low to medium confidence)
NHS Gloucestershire have a website where you can “Find the information you need about the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Gloucestershire in one place. Visit the site for the latest updates, info on priority groups, FAQs and more”. Gloucestershire County Council have a hub for information on vaccines, including “a new online form for vaccination queries from the public and stakeholders“.
We’ve published five videos of clips from an interview with Dr Tom Malins (click to watch on Youtube). And check out our previous video with Dr Jim Holmes and Practice Manager Karen Pitney from Rowcroft Medical Centre on “why you should get vaccinated“.
If you’ve had your jab recently, please do read advice on continuing to be cautious immediately after receiving your vaccination.
Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 187,548 – 80,327 fewer people testing positive in the week compared to the previous week (a 30% decrease on the 267,875 who tested positive in the previous week). The decrease has been sustained but appears to be slowing. It’s hard to predict what will happen next, but at least numbers have fallen rather than continued to rise.
Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 794,342 people had a symptomtic infection on the 1st August, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users (up from 767,618 last week). This is pretty close to their estimate for the peak in January (801,461). Based on the reporting of symptoms and positive test results, Zoe estimate cases much higher among unvaccinated people (36,102 new cases on 24th July), and lower among those vaccinated, around 10,000 infections in people with 1 dose, and 14,000 in people with two (of whom there are many more than there are people with no vaccinations, remember – the chart below gives these numbers as a rate per 100,000 people in each category). Zoe also report that users are reporting infections after vaccination are less severe.
There has been some suggestion that there is a discrepancy between the data on people testing positive, the estimate from ZOE, and the ONS survey estimates. However, John Burn-Murdoch’s chart below for the FT shows how the ONS data covers a period prior to the numbers of people testing positive, and is likely to still be consistent – while David Speigelhater and Anthony Masters also explain how the different methods measure slightly different things.
The number of people in hospital with the virus nationally may have hit a peak. At 5,916 on the 29th July, it is slightly lower than each of the last three days (peaking at 6,048 on the 28th July). We know hospitalisations lag infections, so this flattening is an indication that the number of infections really is falling/becoming associated with people at lower risk of hospitalisation (younger unvaccinated people / fully vaccinated people).
The number of Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds, the sickest patients, is still rising: 869 on the 29th July, more than double the 417 on the 8th July (21 days previously), and a 26% rise on last week. The number is still some distance from the peak of 4,077 people on 24th January 2021, but less than 3 doublings away. 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 patients being admitted is high but the rate of increase is slowing markedly – 6,327 people were admitted in the last 7 days. The daily number of 931 on the 25th July is the highest daily number since 968 people were admitted on the 25th February. However, the doubling time is now estimated to be around 48 days – much longer than the fortnight it has been in recent weeks. We send our best wishes to all these patients, and hope that falling infections soon means fewer people being admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile, vaccinations appear to be continuing to help reduce “The ratio of English hospital beds occupied with Covid-19 patients to Covid-19 cases two weeks ago”. This ratio “is at its lowest level ever again, just 0.12. Literally a tenth of its peak during the Winter outbreaks” (this is a function of fewer people being admitted, and stays in hospital being shorter).
The age profile of people in hospitals has shifted dramatically as older people are protected by full vaccination and more young people than ever are getting the virus under a situation of few restrictions. Figures from Public Health England suggest a quarter of all Covid admissions are now under 30, up from about 5% in January
Indeed, while hospital admissions generally are much lower than in January, “admissions among the under-25s are back up to January levels, according to the ONS”.
The numbers of people dying are rising but still relatively low – 268 people had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the week to 16th July (up from 217 the previous week). However, we know it takes time for people to get sick, and certainly sick enough to die, and so these numbers do not reflect the recent rises in infections/hospitalisations.
A lot of people have been self-isolating. The ONS report: “6% of adults reported self-isolating at some point in the last 7 days between 21-25 July” – rising to as high as 11% of 16-29 year olds the week before. That’s a lot of people, and we’d hope would play a big role in preventing spread of the virus to further people (people with symptoms isolating to avoid passing the virus on is really important).”Over one in eight reported that they had self-isolated because they had tested positive for COVID-19″ but “the main reasons were being in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 (42%), followed by having been notified by NHS Test and Trace, or notified directly from a venue that they had visited (37%).”
Isolating is really important, but also hard, so please see this goverment page covering “guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection”, and see our Facebook group for signposting to support.
The number of people testing positive has been rising since June 19th to 585,000 daily (7-day-rolling average to July 31st)
The numbers of people dying with their deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise, particularly in South America, Asia, and Africa. Over 4.2 million people have had their death attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
In terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths relative to the population, the United Kingdom has a fairly high rate (1,914 – around one in every 522 people), but lower than the worst hit countries – such as Peru (5,955 per million, or around one in every 168 people), Hungary (3,108), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2,953), and Czechia (2,836). The UK rate is about a fifth lower than for the continent of South America (2,530 Covid-19 deaths per million), but slightly higher than that for the European Union as a whole (1,673), and for North America (1,560) 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 death rates – including Germany (1,094 – not much over half the UK rate), or much lower rates – Finland and Norway have rates 10 times lower than the UK (178 and 147 per million), and South Korea, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Vietnam have rates that barely register compared to the worst hit areas (though some of these countries have current outbreaks that may increase mortality, hopefully outbreaks can be controlled / vaccination can rollout before they reach the levels seen in other parts of the world).
In terms of vaccination, the UK has a very high proportion who have received at least one dose (69% of population) – behind only a few countries such as Canada (71%), Chile (73%) and UAE (79% – see the chart below). The UK’s rate for full vaccination (56%) is also very high in terms of global comparisons: nearly three times as high as across South America (20%), and more than 5 times higher than the proportion across Asia (11%). Across Africa, just 3.5% of the population have received any vaccination, and only 1.7% are fully vaccinated.
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 core advice remains: 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, or call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week to self-refer or visit NHS Volunteer Responders. You may be able to receive financial support to self-isolate from Stroud District Council.
Book a test via this link. 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.
Whether or not you have symptoms, please still follow the public health advice 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.