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. The next ones may be more sporadic still, or shorter, as James has family commitments.
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. The key point re boosters is that if you are eligible but haven’t had one yet: your GP will invite you in soon – there is some capacity on the National Booking System and additional locally organised drop-ins. But GP surgeries are organising loads of clinics over next few weeks for all eligible (everyone over 50 plus at risk of all ages).
The latest local COVID-19 data:
The numbers of people testing positive who are in local hospital beds has continued to fall and is now approaching the lows for 2022 so far (with any luck, we’ll hit a new low by the next time we report). The number of patients that had tested positive peaked at 181 on 24th Sept, and has fallen to 55 as of the 2nd November (the most recent data available).
The recent peak was 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.
Most importantly, this data is perhaps our best guide to the prevalence of the virus in our communitiesmore broadly – people are much more likely to be tested in hospital than outside it.
The chart below shows data for 2022 only to make the recent trends clearer – and also breaks down for the two local NHS Trusts.
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 2nd November, there have previously been as many as 19 patients in local critical care with COVID-19 when wider hospital numbers have peaked (on 23rd January 2021).
Sadly, the most recent data shows twelve people who had lived in Gloucestershire died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate in the most recent week for which data is available (to 21st October). In total 17 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate since our last update. In the worst weeks at the start of 2021 (71 deaths in a week) or in early 2020 (127 deaths in a week).
A total of 1,675 people who had lived in Gloucestershire have died with COVID-19 at least contributing according to clinicians.
There were 4 deaths of people who had lived in Stroud district where COVID-19 has been involved in the two most recent weeks of data. A total of 314 people who had lived in Stroud district have now died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate.
Numbers of people with infections were still rising nationally and regionally as of the latest date from the ONS: around one in every 35 people would have tested positive in the week ending 24th October across England and the South West. 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). 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, even with Gloucestershire data only being available once a month.
The chart below shows how ONS estimates of prevalence of the virus related to ZOE estimates and data from people who report positive test results on the government website. You can see how the trends have similar patterns, even if different methodologies lead to different estimates for the numbers of people with the virus at any one time.
The hospital situation is similar nationally to locally, with admissions to hospital falling across all regions, including faster than previously. It may not be related to take-up of Autumn boosters – but the following chart shows takeup has been swift, and – for some age groups such as 75-79 year olds – has already reached the total uptake levels for Spring Boosters.
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 have risen recently (later than hospitalisations and infections, as it takes time for people to get ill enough to die). The current 7-day average is 88 people dying across the UK with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, but this is only data to the 7th October. Incomplete data that has been coming in since the 11th October suggests a possible peak in deaths on 12th October, but we’ll have to wait and see.
There have been 209,947 total deaths of people who had lived in the UK where COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate by a clinician as at least contributing to the cause (and the main cause in more than three-quarters of cases). You can see on the chart below that weekly deaths have been much lower since the introduction of vaccines from December 2020. Nonetheless, 32,605 people have died with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate in 2022 so far (16% of all COVID-19 deaths, 2021: 82,344 people or 39% of the total, 2020: 94,998 people or 45% of the total).
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.
Whether people have access to testing strongly influences confirmed case numbers by continent, but across the world weekly COVID-19 cases are falling slowly. Around 2.3 million people tested positive in the week to 4th November, down from 3 million in the week to 4th October.
The numbers of daily confirmed deaths has fallen again at a global level, after a recent peak 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)
An article on “Life expectancy changes since COVID-19” estimates life expectancy changes in 29 countries since 2020. As well as finding correlation with vaccine uptake, the authors wrote: “While COVID-19 has been the most severe global mortality shock since World War II, we will have to wait to know whether and how longer-term LE trends are altered by the pandemic. Extrapolating our findings from 2021, it is plausible that countries with ineffective public health responses will see a protracted health crisis induced by the pandemic, with medium-term stalls in LE improvements, while other regions manage a smoother recovery to return to pre-pandemic trends.”
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.