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 cumulative number of people vaccinated (first dose only)
Because of the data used, the weekly update will come in stages:
- Monday – Vaccinations, people in hospital, and on ventilation
- Tuesday – 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: 22nd-28th February
- The weekly number of people testing positive decreased by 30.7% (from 66,016 people to 45,748)
- The weekly number of people admitted to hospital decreased by 29.1% (from 7,996 admissions to 5,666)
- The average number of people in hospital with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 21.5% (from 15,770 people to 12,377)
- The average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 20.1% (from 2,326 people to 1,859)
- The weekly number of people dying from coronavirus (28-day cut-off) decreased by 37.8% (from 2,469 people to 1,536*)
- The cumulative number of people vaccinated with their first dose increased by 15.1% (from 14,958,074 people to 17,212,804)
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly positive cases and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
After a blip last week, the rate of decline accelerated from -12.4% to -30.7% (its biggest decline yet). This meant weekly cases fell from 66,016 to 45,748, putting us 87% down on January’s peak and 70% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. If we continue falling at this significant decline, we could be seeing extremely low numbers ahead of both Phase 1 and 2 reopening. For example, by 8th March we would be at ~22,000 weekly cases (~3,150 daily cases); by 29th March we would be at ~7,400 weekly cases (~1,050 a day); and, finally, by 12th April we would be at ~3,500 weekly cases (~500 a day). This would put us in a great position going into the summer.
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly hospital admissions and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
After a slight deceleration last week, the rate of decline for hospital admissions accelerated from -21.4% to -29.1% – its highest weekly decline so far. This meant weekly hospital admissions decreased from 7,996 to 5,666. We are now 78% down on January’s peak and 48% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. The acceleration could indicate that we are starting to see a vaccination effect on this metric, which will be welcomed news ahead of Phase 1 and Phase 2 reopening. If we continue falling at this new decline, we would reach ~2,850 weekly admissions by 8th March; ~1,020 by 29th March; and ~510 by 12th April.
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 (-21.5%), it still led to numbers falling from 15,770 to 12,377. This puts the average 63% down on January’s peak. Yet the good news is that we fell below Lockdown 2.0 peak levels (14,343) this week, reaching an important milestone. In terms of where numbers could be in relation to the easing of restrictions, as the rate of decline was roughly the same as last week, the projections have not changed that much. By 8th March we could be at ~7,630 people in hospital; by 29th March ~3,690 people; and, finally, by 12th April down to ~2,280. 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 -16.2% to -20.1% this week, which means the average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus fell from 2,326 to 1,859. This puts us 49% down on January peak, however, we are still two weeks off dropping below Lockdown 2.0 levels – the last metric to do so. The rate acceleration has improved our projections moving forward. By 8th March, we could be down to ~1,190 people on ventilation; by 29th March, down to ~605; and, finally, by 12th April, we could be seeing numbers as low as ~390. 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 5th March) 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 22nd-28th February currently stands at 1,446, giving us a 5-7.5% confidence range of 1,518-1,554. The middle point, 1,536 deaths, means the rate of decline is -37.8%, a significant acceleration on last week’s -29.4%. This fall represents the largest we have had across all metrics and is probably the strongest indication of a vaccination effect on the data. We are now 81% down on January’s peak and 44% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. At our current rate of decline, we would effectively reach the lowest levels we achieved during last summer by the middle of April. An incredible achievement.
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 22nd-28th February, we vaccinated 2,254,730 people – an increase of 159,565. This increase in the weekly total is welcomed news, halting the previous downward trend in the past two updates. It appears the slight lull was due to a planned ramp-up in March to accommodate needing to administer plenty of second doses alongside continuing with first doses. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, the weekly total of people receiving their first doses will accelerate towards ~3 million, putting us well ahead of schedule for vaccinating the majority of the adult population by summer.
In terms of the cumulative total, it increased by 15.1% this week, up from 14,958,074 people to 17,212,804. It means we are on course to vaccinate the first nine priority groups (~27 million) by the week of 22nd-28th March, completing the target ahead of the second easing of restrictions on 29th March. All in all it’s been a good data week for vaccinations.
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