Since entering our third national lockdown on 4th January, focus has rightly been on our vaccine roll-out and the potential effect it could have on transmission, hospitalisations and deaths. As the number of people vaccinated with their first dose increases, as does our opportunity to further accelerate the rate of decline in positive cases, people having to go to hospital and those unfortunately dying. Yet seeing how far we have come is also important: to reinforce the positive messaging that what we are doing is enough and to keep it up. So, this blog post is an attempt to do that, to show (1) how far we have come; and (2) how far we could go if we at least maintain our current rates of decline. Every week it will be updated with a summary detailing the weekly change in:
- Positive cases (by specimen date)
- Hospital admissions
- People in hospital with coronavirus (average across the week)
- Deaths (by date of death)
- The culminative number of people vaccinated (by date of vaccination – first dose only)
Because of the data used, the weekly update will be completed by Thursday or Friday (depending on whether there are any issues with the release of data on the government’s COVID-19 dashboard). This is because some of the data takes four to five days to become complete due to using the specimen date for cases (the date the test was carried out rather than reported) and date of death for deaths (instead of date reported). The reasoning why these measures are used instead of the daily reported figures is because they give us a more accurate picture of what is happening in the community on any given day, whereas reported figures consistently oscillate between underreporting or overreporting infections and deaths, making it difficult to fully trust trends in its data.
WEEKLY UPDATE: 1st-7th February
- The weekly number of people testing positive decreased by 27.2% (from 145,304 to 105,793)
- The weekly number of people admitted to hospital decreased by 22.5% (from 17,663 hospital admissions to 13,683)
- The average number of people in hospital with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 16.2% (from 30,357 people to 25,440)
- The average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 8.7% (from 3,553 people to 3,243)
- The weekly number of people dying within 28 days of a positive test decreased by ~27% (from 6,542 people to ~4,800)
- The culminative number of people vaccinated with their first dose increased by 30.2% (from 8,082,355 people to 10,519,729)
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly positive cases and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
This week saw a similar rate of decline as last week, with cases decreasing by 27.2% (down from 145,304 to 105,793). Not only does this mean that we are now 70% down on the January peak, but we are also 27% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak, having fallen below that figure last week. It means we are still on course to reach <1,000 daily cases by the beginning of April, which would represent an incredible achievement given how high cases were.
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly hospital admissions and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
Even though the rate of decline has slowed slightly this week, from -23.3% to -22.5%, it is still good news. Weekly hospital admissions dropped from 17,663 to 13,683, which means we are on course to fall below Lockdown 2.0’s peak next week. It also means we could still reach <200 daily hospital admissions by the beginning of April. There is a strong possibility that this rate could be accelerated by increased vaccinations, especially as we start moving down the age groups. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.
PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL WITH CORONAVIRUS
Here is a graph showing the average number of people in hospital with coronavirus in England and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
In the week of 1st-7th February, the rate of decline accelerated from -9.3% to -16.2%, meaning we had an average of 25,440 people in hospital with coronavirus each day. Although this is encouraging news, we are still above our lockdown 2.0 peak and it will take some weeks to fall below. However, if we continue on our current trajectory, we will reach an average of 5,185 people in hospital per day with coronavirus in the week of 5th-11th April, which will represent a significant easing of the strain on the NHS.
PEOPLE ON VENTILATION
Here is a graph showing the average number of people on ventilation per day with coronavirus and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
Although the rate of decline accelerated from -2.8% to -8.7% in the week of 1st-7th February, this decrease is still relatively modest in comparison to the falls we have seen for hospitalisations, hospital admissions and cases. Hopefully in the next few weeks, the rate will continue to accelerate to bring it in line with others. However, for the moment, it means that currently we have an average of 3,243 people on ventilation with coronavirus per day, which is still a significantly high figure. Even if we continue to follow the current trajectory, we would not fall below Lockdown 2.0’s peak either. But as vaccinations start moving down the age groups, we should see this start to drop off more, so there is no reason to panic.
Here is a graph showing the weekly number of people dying from coronavirus in England within 28 days of a positive test (by date of death), and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
Before giving detail on this week’s numbers, I want to explain the difficulty of tracking deaths (by date of death). They are more time-lagged than cases, which means we tend to see a high number of revisions, even after the 4-5 days typically given to count the dataset as complete. Though it varies week-to-week, these revisions typically tend to be around 5-7.5%. To account for this, I add the conservative revision (7.5%) to the weekly total then calculate the week-on-week percentage change. This means that deaths are more of an estimate than the others, but it is accurate enough to gauge how well we are doing.
We are currently on 4,474 deaths for the week of 1st-7th February, however, this figure is ~4,700 when revising up by 5%, and ~4,800 when revising up by 7.5%. Yet the latter figure would give us a week-to-week decrease of ~27%, which is still an acceleration on the previous week’s rate of ~17%. This is extremely promising. It will be interesting to see if the rate accelerates further as more of the older vaccinated population start acquiring immunity.
Here is a graph showing the culminative number of people vaccinated with their first dose in England and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
In the week of 1st-7th February, we vaccinated 2,437,374 people, bettering last week’s total by 147,178. We are still on track to vaccinate the first four priority groups (~15 million people) by the government’s target of 15th February. Also, if we continue on this trajectory, we could vaccinated ~30 million people by the end of March.