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: 25th-31st JANUARY
Here is a table detailing England’s weekly progress with positive cases, hospital admissions, people in hospital with coronavirus, deaths and vaccinations:
- The weekly number of people testing positive decreased by 27.5% (from 199,621 cases to 144,809)
- The weekly number of people admitted to hospital decreased by 23.3% (from 23,015 hospital admissions to 17,663)
- The average number of people in hospital with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 9.3% (from 33,486 people to 30,357)
- The culminative number of people vaccinated with their first dose increased by 39.5% (from 5,792,159 people to 8,082,355)
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly positive cases and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
There are two pieces of good news with cases this week. Firstly, the rate of decrease accelerated from -25.3% to -27.5%, meaning by the beginning of April we could be looking at <1,000 cases a day if we continue at this current pace. Secondly, the weekly number of cases finally fell below Lockdown 2.0 peak, which is an important milestone. While we still have a long way to go, this represents a 59% drop compared to the January peak. We’re on the right track.
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly hospital admissions and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
A piece of good news this week is the rate of decline for weekly hospital admissions increased from -10.9% to -23.3%. Hopefully in the next few weeks this can accelerate further to 25%-30% as the vaccine roll-out begins to have a greater effect on the most vulnerable, protecting them from serious illness. Realistically, however, we need to vaccinate up to the 50+ age group to successfully target the majority of people at risk of ending up in hospital with coronavirus. Only then will the risk of serious illness be minimal. Even so, if we follow our current trajectory, we could be down to 1,245 weekly admissions (178 a day) by 5th-11th April, which will be very good news.
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 25th-31st January, we had an average of 30,357 people in hospital with coronavirus each day. This is the first week past the peak so explains why the decline was only a modest -9.3%. In the next few weeks, we can expect this decline to accelerate to 20%-30%, especially as vaccinations start having an effect on our most vulnerable population, offering them protection from serious illness. However, it is imperative this decline starts accelerating because the NHS is still under enormous strain with numbers that high, which we must start alleviating as quickly as possible.
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 25th-31st January, we vaccinated 2,290,196 people. If we continue on that trajectory, we will vaccinate the first four priority groups (~15 million people) by the week of 15th-21st February. This is broadly in line with the government’s target of 15th February, however, the roll-out will need to be accelerated further to reach the target at the beginning of the week (15th February) rather than the end of the week (21st February).
Note: Deaths will be updated on Friday once the time lag is complete.