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31st August 2021 data update

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

New government guidance has been out since 19th July. While many restrictions have been lifted, please see the NHS webpage on “How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus“. Please also read our SCCR statement on the current situation where cases are very high, which underlines that “we can still choose to act conscientiously and with compassion for others“. 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, as well as those who for whatever reason have not taken up the offer of vaccination yet).

This week’s update is shorter, please read and share!

Gloucestershire – positive tests, hospital admissions, people in hospital

The first chart shows a comparison of the key data for Gloucestershire:

  • The number of people testing positive each day is very high (averaging 273 each day in the 7 days to the 28th August).
  • The number of people being admitted to hospital has fallen again (36 admitted in the week to 22nd August – we’ll get another update on 2nd Sept), and though it rose lately it didn’t exceed the recent peak of 64 people admitted in the week to 19th July (purple double-line), despite continued high case numbers.
  • There are a number of people who are still in hospital with Covid-19, but this has halved to 14 on the 24th August (compared to 29 as of 17th August, red block). One of these patients is in a Mechanical Ventilation bed. We wish all patients well with their recovery.
  • That admissions to hospital and numbers of people in hospital are relatively low – particularly in a context of high numbers of people testing positive – seems to be a testament to the power of vaccination.
  • However, a further 3 people who lived in Gloucestershire have died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate – in the week to 13th August which is the latest data for this measure. A further 9 people have died within 28 days of a positive test between the 13th -30th August (we don’t know the vaccination status of people who have died, and – in any case – send our condolences to their loved ones)
Chart by James Beecher and Claire Biggs, based on data from the Public Health England dashboard

People who have tested positive – districts, areas within districts, and age profile

Rates of people testing positive per 100,000 people across the county are still high at 273-366 per 100,000 people across the different districts (315 per 100,000 people across Gloucestershire – equivalent to one in every 317 people testing positive in the last week). These are around the levels they were ain mid-July, and well above the levels in March – May). There aren’t big differences between districts (and these could reflect whether people get tested or not), but the rate in Stroud district (366 per 100,000 or one in every 274 people) is higher than in the other districts – for the first time since March. The chart below includes the trend for England, which is broadly very similar to that for Gloucestershire – though rates have been rising faster in the county during August than across England as a whole. For Stroud district, the county, and England there is a little sign of a dip but it is too early to identify a trend – particularly with schools about to return, which will lead to more tests and potentially more identification of cases without symptoms, and could also involve more spread of the virus too. You can view daily numbers for Gloucestershire, or districts within it, on the government’s dashboard, and there is more information 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 30 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. In the week to the 26th August, 1,796 of the 2,019 people living in Gloucestershire to test positive for the first time were aged under 60 (89%), compared to 223 people aged 60 or over (whereas in previous waves numbers have been roughly evenly split between age groups). Cases are still rising slowly among over 60s. And the chart below shows how different the relationship is now to in the ‘second wave’ – when rates among under and over 60s were very similar. Rates of over 60s testing positive are now approaching the level in November last year, but far fewer appear to be being hospitalised.

Source: gov.uk data dashboard – Gloucestershire

Within Stroud district, the rate of people testing positive compared to the population is highest in is Rodborough & Thrupp, with a rate of 528 per 100,000 people (with 36 people testing positive in the week to the 26th August, up from 7 in the previous week – a very rapid increase). In various parts of the county where numbers were rising they have started to fall – see below for more detail on the parts of Stroud district.

Source: govt interactive map

The charts below show different areas of Stroud district with the number of people testing positive each week till the 22nd August. The charts show that all areas experienced a higher number of people testing positive in the recent weeks than at any time since August last year (which is when data is available for. It’s a higher number of people testing positive than ever, but because access to testing was limited to people admitted to hospital in the early months of the epidemic, comparisons with that period are less useful). The sole possible exception is Minchinhampton & Amberley – where weekly tests have not exceeded the peak (but where sustained numbers of people testing positive have still mean more people than the sharp rise and fall last year). It will be a few weeks before we see and sustained trend of decline in these charts (but there are encouraging signs in Cam, Dursley, and Upton St Leonards and Hardwicke).

Data collated by Claire Biggs, charts by James Beecher. Data from Public Health England – MSOA

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. The number of tests being done is high but down a little recently (25,137 in the week to 25th August, compared to 28,594 in the week to 18th July). The proportion of tests that return positive results has been changing – roughly related to the numbers of people testing positive, suggesting both are a good reflection of changes in the amount of people infected, even if not everyone with the virus gets tested. The proportion testing positive in the week to the 25th August was at 8.6% – close to the recent peak of 9.6%, and very high compared to a low of 0.2% between 24th April – 13th, and 16-21st May, but lower than 9.7% it hit in the week to 19th August.

Source: gov.uk, Gloucestershire – dashboard

Vaccinations

Data from the NHS on Covid-19 vaccinations is now collated in a monthly vaccination update. The main headline figures are that:

Across Stroud district, around 70% of the population are fully vaccinated, with a further 6% having received a first but not a second dose (76% of the population has received at least one dose).

Rates are similar across Gloucestershire and the South West. In England as a whole 63% of the population are now estimated to be fully vaccinated and a further 8% have had one dose (leaving 29% 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 around two in five have received at least one dose (39.5%). In many countries – particularly the poorest, under 5% of the population has received at least one dose. See our monthly vaccination update for more details (or the Our World in Data vaccination page).

Data collation and chart by James Beecher. Data from Public Health England gov.uk dashboard / OurWorldInData

National context

You can see a summary of the trends on the government dashboard at this link.

Across the UK, the number of people to have tested positive in the past 7 days is 236,433. This is barely different to the number that tested positive in the previous week – 1,580 more (a 0.7% increase). This hopefully suggests the recent increases are petering out and we may see declines – but it could be a Bank Holiday effect and we’ll need to wait a little longer to see the trend. The numbers of people dying within 28 days of a positive test is thankfully lower than last week, but not by much (681 in the past 7 days, down 24 / -3.4%). Further, the number of patients being admitted to hospital (6,479 in the past 7 days, up 364 / 6.0%) are also rising (we’d expect these to lag numbers of people testing positive as it takes time to get sick). In terms of people aged 16+ alone (most of those eligible, only some 12-15 year olds can access vaccination due to clinical vulnerability of either themselves or household members), across the UK three-quarters (78.7%) have been fully vaccinated in 9 in 10 (88.4%) have received at least one dose.

Across the UK, the KCL/ZOE app team estimate around 720,005 people had a symptomtic infection on the 31st August, based on symptom reporting by up to 4.6 million app users (up from 638,522 on the 22nd August).

We can look at where we are compared to ‘models’ (predictions by experts that rely on attempts to use data on vaccination and prior infection levels, and changes in people’s behaviour, the seasons etc, to predict numbers of infections and hospital admissions. The first two charts below are from Graham Medley, Professor of infectious disease modelling and chair of SPI-M (sub-group of SAGE).

The first shows hospital admissions (red dots) vs modelling produced on the 7th July, ahead of the ‘step 4’ reopening that took place on 19th July. As you can see, the red dots are roughly flat at around the 1,000 per day level, way below some of the scenarios. The chart below this one compares the numbers to the ‘middle’ of the estimates…

Source: Graham Medley

The next chart shows the same data but on a ‘logarithmic’ scale that essentially squashes the scale so it is easier to see rates of change at lower numbers. It also adds the central estimates (black x’s) and lines to show the range of possible scenarios (ie, the points at the end of the lines were expected to be less likely). Here you can see the red dots are close to 5 of the black x’s, and lower than the middle estimates but within the black line range for 6 further estimates. There are 4 remaining estimates, 3 of which have their central point significantly above where the red dots look to be headed at the moment… but the trajectory could change.

Source: Graham Medley – log plot

Finally on models, the below chart from a ‘non-expert’ on twitter – @thatRyanChap – compares hospital admissions in England with the models by Warwick University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and James Ward. The black dots representing actual admissions are lower now than in all three of the models – but roughly tracking those of LSHTM and mathemetician James Ward, which is hopefully a sign they will continue to do so and keep falling… but things could change.

Source: thatryanchap

International context

The number of people testing positive globally each day seems to have hit a peak: 655,755 (7-day-rolling average to August 30th – very similar to last week). The situation is different in different continents (and countries within them). Confirmed cases have been falling consistently for some time in South America – to the lowever levels since summer last year, but have risen dramatically in North America, and in Asia, though in both places they appear to be hitting a peak (obviously the contintent level obscures massive variations between and within countries).

The numbers of people dying with their deaths attributed to Covid-19 continue to rise, particularly in Asia. Over 4.4 million people have had their death attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic (and this is believed to be a significant underestimate due to limited death registration data in many countries – including India for example).

Notes

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 – it’s really important you isolate and get tested if you have symptoms (fever, new cough, loss of smell/taste). 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.