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19th June 2022 update

Team members James Beecher and Claire Biggs summarise data on Covid-19

Key links around vaccinations, testing, and government guidance are included at the end of this update. If you have a question about any of this, please ask in our Facebook group.

The local data continues to be encouraging, but please don’t miss that at the national level it seems numbers of infections, hospital admissions and bed occupied by people with COVID-19 are all rising (read more in the national section below).

The latest local data:

The Office for National Statistics produce estimates for the percentage of people that would test positive in a week, based on a large scale PCR-test based ‘infection survey’ designed to represent the population. The chart below shows recent data for Gloucestershire and England. Unfortunately, it seems that the fall in prevalence has at least stalled, and that the proportion of people with active infections may be rising again (due to new sublineages of Omicron, known as BA.4 and BA.5 starting to push infections up, even as the waves of prevoius sublineages BA.1 and BA.2 subside). See more on this below. As of 11th June (the latest data from ONS), infection prevalence was rising to around 2% or 1 in every 50 people across England. Rates in Gloucestershire may be a little higher (2.4% or 1 in every 42 people), though the difference could just be due to sample size and margin of error.

Source: ONS infection survey

The total number of people who have tested positive and are occupying any hospital bed in Gloucestershire was 30 as of 14th June. This is down from 34 last week, and a new low for 2022 of 24 patients on 12th June (previous lowest was 41 patients on the 16th May, highest was 174 on the 28th Feb). There were no COVID-19 patients in critical care beds locally on the 14th June, and there has not been a COVID-19 patient in critical care locally since 5th June).

2 people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with COVID-19 listed as a cause of death in the most recent week of this data (to 3rd June), neither were from Stroud district. These deaths bring the total number of people who have died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death cerficiate in Gloucestershire to 1,560. Across Stroud district the total is 296. The chart below shows how people have been less likely to die in the post-vaccination era (underplaying this because in the absence of restrictions and with more transmissable variants, far more people have been infected – but are less likely to be hospitalised, let alone to experience the severest symptoms). Many people have been admitted to hospital or diagnosed in hospital in recent months – but these are less likely to be severe cases of COVID-19.

Source: the UKHSA dashboard data for Gloucestershire

The chart below takes the hospital numbers for 2022 alone so the recent changes can be seen more easily.

Source: the UKHSA dashboard data for Gloucestershire

The chart below shows how there have still been some COVID-19 patients admit to critical care in recent months, but that since January 2022, the number has never been above 5. Between 5th and 14th June there were no patients with COVID-19 in local critical care beds, the longest period without a patient in critical care since July 2021.

National summary

For a great summary of the national situation, see the ONS “Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights” page, which is updated with the latest possible data from the Office for National Statistics and other sources.

The charts below from Paul Mainwood show that ONS prevalence data by day for England shows a consistent rise in infections (30-35% per week), as do confirmed cases on gov.uk (though these are only capturing around 9% of infections at the moment). ZOE estimates (based on symptom and test result reporting) show less of a rise, but because they showed less of a drop still show very similar level of prevalence.

Mainwood also provides the ONS breakdown by age, which shows infections are highest among those aged 50-69 (2.7%) – interestingly spring boosters for those aged 70 and over appear to be suppressing the rise in infections for that age group.

Sadly, at a national level, the number of patients being admitted to and in hospital with COVID-19 continues to rise, up 31% week-on-week, with numbers of patients occupying beds also rising – though more slowly at 19%.

Not every patient with COVID-19 has the disease as their primary reason for hospitalisation – but among those where this is the case, numbers have also risen (though still well below previous peaks for the time being).

Colin Angus presents hospitalisation data by age, and while we can see rises in all age groups (when they are indexed to their January peak), the second chart shows the overwhelming majority of hospital admissions are associated with those aged 85 and over, and very few are aged under 65.

Deaths data this week is affected by two bank holidays that will reduce the number of registrations. Data shows 211 people who had lived in the UK, died with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate in the most recent week of data – to 3rd June, a further drop on the previous week (455) in a now clearly declining trend. This is the lowest weekly number by this measure since the week to 2nd July 2021 (when 132 people died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificates, though a higher proportion then had it listed as the main cause of death). You can see the clear drop in daily deaths on the chart below.

The ONS find that:

  • “In the week ending 3 June 2022 (Week 22), 6,825 deaths were registered in England and Wales; 186 of these deaths mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, accounting for 2.7% of all deaths.”
  • “Of the 186 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 22, 58.1% (108 deaths) had this recorded as the underlying cause of death, compared with 64.9% in Week 21.”

21,618 people who had lived in the UK died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate as at least contributing to their death in 2022 so far, of a total 198,757 people since the pandemic began (around 11% of total covid deaths have been in 2022).

Source: coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths

International context

In terms of where we might be headed with the new versions of the virus, we can look a bit to other countries – South Africa has passed a wave, but Portugal is having a large wave equivalent in size to it’s first Omicron wave (charts in second tweet below, first only shows how different versions of the virus have replaced each other in terms of the proportion of cases).

Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world as a whole cases are just about rising slowly. around 3.7 million people tested positive in the week to 18th June, up on the 3.4 million last week (obviously with wide variation within continents). The rise is clearest in Europe, though this is likely in considerable part due to increased access to testing.

Notes

Please refer to the NHS and government guidance on:

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 have making life difficult for many people. We’re also volunteers with no public health expertise – collating and signposting to other sources for guidance and authoritative data.

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.