These reports are now fortnightly rather than weekly. We hope they are still useful to people – and we will consider increasing frequency should there be a need.
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. For further info, see the COVID-19 Actuaries Group weekly report.
Autumn booster vaccinations locally are the new ‘bivalent’ vaccines designed to prompt immune responses to both the ‘original’ strain of SARS-COV-2 and the Omicron BA.1 variant. Mainly Moderna/Spikevax has been used so far, but stocks are being used up and people are starting to receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty bivalent vaccine when attending for autumn boosters. Theses are both mRNA vaccines, but for people who need an alternative, we will share information as soon as we have it – an option will be made available locally.
The latest local COVID-19 data:
A dramatic rise locally is apparent in the numbers of people testing positive in local hospital beds (see below). The number of patients in local hospitals who have tested positive for SARS-COV-2 has risen to a new peak for 2022 of 181 patients on 24th Sept, before falling a little to 178 as of the 28th September (the most recent data available). The latter figure is still higher than the previous peak this year of 174 patients. It is still well below the highest ever number of patients in local hospitals confimed to have tested positive for SARS-COV-2 (262 patients at the peak in January 2021). Comparisons with previous periods are a little misleading, as a higher proportion than previously are now treated primarily for something else (meaning the situation now is in reality much better than a comparison of raw numbers implies). However, high numbers of positive cases in hospital environments are still a huge problem for hospitals which have to work hard to prevent spread to patients who may be at very high risk if they are infected.
We don’t know how long the rise will last, but the causes could include more indoor mixing/better circumstances for the virus to spread, waning of immunity, and further evolution of the virus which means another variation (or several) is/are circulating and is/are able to spread through reinfecting people / infecting those who have been vaccinated. Both vaccination and/or prior infection are likely to mean less severe consequences on the whole, but there will be cases where people (mainly those aged over 80) are still at risk.
It’s crucial to stress that, unlike in previous waves, few patients have been admitted to critical care recently with COVID-19 despite this rapid rise in people testing positive in hospital. While people can still get virus and be badly affected – there were two patients in critical care with COVID-19 locally as of 28th September, there have previously been as many as 19 patients in local critical care with COVID-19.
Similarly, while it takes time for people to get sick enough to die because of the disease, the most recent data shows two people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent data (to 16th September). This is the lowest weekly figure since the week ending the 3rd June.
Numbers of people with infections are rising nationally – around one in every 65 people would have tested positive in the week ending 20th September across England. These estimates come from the Office for National Statistics, who 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 (with around 75,000 tests per week). Recently, data for the South West and Gloucestershire has not been made available (most likely due to bank holidays impacting on work days to conduct analysis), but the similarity between the percentages testing positive at anyone time and the trends indicate that the England data is a relatively good guide to the local situation.
There have been no deaths of people who had lived in Stroud district where COVID-19 has been involved in the past three weeks of data (since 26th August, covering death registrations to the 16th September. A total of 308 people who had lived in Stroud district have now died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate.
7 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate since our last update. A total of 1,638 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with COVID-19 at least contributing according to clinicians.
The hospital situation is similar nationally to locally.
For now, deaths are not rising (but they always lag hospitalisations as it takes time for people to get sick), and instances where COVID-19 is the primary diagnosis are rising (to around 2,500 people, up from around 1,500 a few weeks ago).
Deaths by date of death for instances where COVID-19 is mentioned on a death certificate by a clinician as at least contributing to the death are falling – having peaked in the recent ‘wave’ on 20th July. The chart below shows clearly how this recent ‘peak’ was much lower than those in the pre-vaccination era in spring 2020 and winter 2020/21. The current 7-day average is 47 people dying across the UK with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, and falling – hopefully soon below the 2022 low of 33 on the 5th June. there have been 207,183 total deaths of people who had lived in the UK, in total. You can see on the chart below that weekly deaths have been much lower since the introduction of vaccines from December 2020.
For a great broader 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. This includes that 96.1% of people tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19 (generated either by immune response to infection, vaccination, or both) – down slightly on recent estimates which could be estimate flucuation but could also be due to waning immunity (whatever the cause of immune response)..
Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world weekly COVID-19 cases are plateauing as they rise in Europe despite falls elsewhere. Around 3.0 million people tested positive in the week to 16th 1st October, down from 3.5 in the middle of September.
The numbers of daily confirmed deaths also peaked around August 20th, well below the rates from mid-April 2020, let alone January and April 2021 (Alpha variant), August 2021 (Delta variant), and February 2022 (first wave of Omicron variant)
Please refer to the NHS and government guidance on:
- Information about the “Spring booster” rollout in Gloucestershire on the local NHS website.
- Details regarding the testing system – including who can access tests
- What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19
- What to do if you’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19
- How to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
- Summary government “Guidance for living safely with respiratory infections, including coronavirus (COVID-19)“
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.