This piece is part of a series of weekly blog posts that aim to summarise England’s progress throughout lockdown, showing (1) how far we have come; and (2) how far we could go if we maintain our current rates of decline. It provides an updated summary detailing the weekly change in:
- Positive cases (by specimen date)
- Hospital admissions
- People in hospital with coronavirus (average across the week)
- People on ventilation 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 come in stages:
- Monday – Vaccinations
- Tuesday – People in hospital, and on ventilation
- Wednesday – Hospital admissions
- Thursday – Cases (by specimen date)
- Friday – Deaths (by date of death)
This is due to the length of time it takes for the each dataset to become complete. Some of the data takes longer (four to five days) because of 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: 15th-21st February
- The weekly number of people testing positive decreased by 12.7% (from 75,321 people to 65,782)
- The weekly number of people admitted to hospital decreased by 21.4% (from 10,167 admissions to 7,996)
- The average number of people in hospital with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 21.4% (from 20,069 people to 15,770)
- The average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 16.2% (from 2,776 people to 2,326)
- The weekly number of people dying from coronavirus (28-day cut-off) decreased by 28.5% (from 3,473 people to 2,485*)
- The culminative number of people vaccinated with their first dose increased by 16.3% (from 12,862,909 people to 14,958,074)
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, the rate of decline decelerated significantly from -29.2% to -12.7%, meaning weekly cases only fell from 75,321 to 65,782. It is unclear whether this is a permanent shift towards slower case decline or a reflection of another factor, such as cold weather leading to more socialising inside. However, we are still 81% down on January’s peak and 56% down on Lockdown 2.0 peak. Even this slower decline would lead weekly cases to fall below <20,000 by end of April. Yet this is way above the <2,000 weekly cases we would see for the same period if the rate had continued at a consistent ~29% fall, showcasing how trajectories can easily change. Therefore, it is worth keeping an eye on how this develops over the next few weeks, especially once we start relaxing restrictions in March.
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly hospital admissions and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
Though the rate of decline decelerated this week from -25.7% to -21.4% this week, it still represents a significant decrease in numbers. We are now down from 10,167 weekly admissions to 7,996. This is 69% down on January’s peak and 26% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. Even at this slightly lower rate of decline, if we maintain it for the next two months, we would reach ~3,900 weekly admissions (~555 daily) by 8th March; ~1,900 (~270 daily) by 29th March; and ~1,170 (~170 daily) by 12th April. This would significantly ease the burden on the NHS moving into summer.
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:
Even though the rate of decline in the average number of people in hospital with coronavirus stayed roughly the same this week (-21.4%), it still lead to numbers falling from 20,069 to 15,770. This puts the average 53% down on January peak and we can expect to fall below Lockdown 2.0 peak levels next week. In terms of where numbers could be in relation to the easing of restrictions, by 8th March we could be at ~7,650 people in hospital, by 29th March ~3,700 people, and, finally, by 12th April down to ~2,300. This is providing we continue falling at current rate.
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:
The rate of decline accelerated from -14.4% to -16.2% this week, which means the average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus fell from 2,776 to 2,326. This puts us 36% down on January peak, however, we are still some weeks off dropping below Lockdown 2.0 levels. Though the rate continues to be lower than other metrics, the decrease is still high enough to make a sizeable dent moving forward. By 8th March, we could be down to ~1,370 people on ventilation; by 29th March, down to ~810; and, finally, by 12th April, we could be seeing numbers as low as ~570. Again, this is providing we continue at our current rate of decline.
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 create confidence intervals based on 5-7.5% of the weekly total (as of 26th February) and then use the middle figure to 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.
The weekly total of deaths for 15th-21st February currently stands at 2,339, giving us a 5-7.5% confidence range of 2,456-2,514. The middle point, 2,485 deaths, means the rate of decline is -28.5%, a slight acceleration on last week’s 27.7%. We are now 69% down on January peak. Some goods news is that weekly deaths are now under Lockdown 2.0’s peak (2,747), becoming the third metric to achieve this feat. If we continue to follow our current trajectory, we are on course to reach ~910 weekly deaths by 8th March; ~340 by 29th March; and ~170 by 12th April.
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 15th-21st February, we vaccinated 2,095,165 people, which was down on the previous week by 248,015. This follows the previous week trend, pointing to some potential issues in the roll-out process. Hopefully, these issues do not continue for much longer as ramping up the roll-out will be necessary to continue administering a significant amount of first doses alongside accommodating second doses, which will become more pertinent in March and April.
Nevertheless, the culminative number of people vaccinated (first dose) still increased by 16.3%, up from 12,862,909 people to 14,958,074. It means that we are still on course to vaccinate the second target of ~27 million people in England by the week of 22nd-28th March, but slower weekly numbers mean this might be more towards the end of March than was the case previously.
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