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 and second dose separated)
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: 8th-14th March
- The weekly number of people testing positive decreased by 2.4% (from 33,624 people to 32,811)
- The weekly positivity rates for both PCR tests and LFD tests decreased to 2.4% and 0.15% respectively (down from 2.5% and 0.15%)
- The weekly number of people admitted to hospital decreased by 24.9% (from 4,066 admissions to 3,055)
- The average number of people in hospital with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 25.8% (from 9,143 people to 6,780)
- The average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus per day this week decreased by 25.0% (from 1,456 people to 1,092)
- The weekly number of people dying from coronavirus (28-day cut-off) decreased by 30.1% (from 980 people to 685*)
- The cumulative number of people vaccinated with their first dose increased by 9.3% (from 19,015,497 people to 20,791,838)
- The cumulative number of people vaccinated with their second dose increased by 41.7% (from 797,321 people to 1,129,444)
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly positive cases and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
Though the rate of decline decelerated significantly from -26.8% to -2.4% this week, it must be contextualised against the testing situation regarding schools. We have seen an enormous increase in testing, predominantly of lateral flow devices (LFDs), to try and catch asymptomatic children in these settings. Yet despite this increase in testing, we have still seen a slight decline in case numbers this week, which is encouraging. Weekly case numbers fell from 33,624 to 32,811, putting us 91% down on January’s peak and 78% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak.
This slight decline is also reflected in this week’s positivity rates, which are shown in the graph below. Both PCR tests and LFDs now stand at 2.4% and 0.15% respectively, down from 2.5% and 0.17%. The World Health Organisation state that anything under 5% is considered as having the pandemic under control, so we are still under that threshold by some margin. Watching how case numbers and positivity rates change over the next few weeks will be critical, but we should at least feel encouraged that the reopening of schools in full has not caused the virus to start increasing in prevalence again.
Here is a graph showing England’s weekly hospital admissions and where we could end up if we continue to follow our current trajectory:
The rate of decline decelerated from -28.2% to -24.9% this week, meaning weekly hospital admissions decreased from 4,066 to 3,055. This puts us 88% down on January’s peak and 72% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. This deceleration leads to slightly higher projections for Phase 1B and 2 relaxations too. If we continue to follow our current trajectory, we would reach ~1,300 weekly admissions by 29th March and ~730 weekly admissions by 12th April. It would also mean that we would be on course to reach the lowest levels we achieved last summer by the beginning of May this year.
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:
This week the rate of decline remained basically unchanged from -26.1% to -25.8%, meaning the average number of people in hospital with coronavirus fell from 9,143 to 6,780. We are now 80% down on January’s peak and 53% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. Maintaining this rate of decline also means that our projections looking forward are effectively the same. If we continue falling at current rate, we would see an average of 2,770 people in hospital by 29th March and 1,525 people by 12th April. Most encouraging, however, is that we would be on course to reach the lowest levels we saw last summer by mid-May this year, around the time of the Phase 3 reopening.
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 significantly from -21.7% to -25.0% this week, bringing the metric in line with the others. It meant the average number of people on ventilation with coronavirus fell from 1,456 to 1,092. This puts us 70% down on January’s peak and we have finally fallen below Lockdown 2.0’s peak – the last metric to do so. The rate acceleration has improved our projections moving forward. By 29th March, we could see an average of 461 people on ventilation, meanwhile, by 12th April, we could see this number falling to 259. As ever, these projections are contingent on us falling at our current rate of decline. If we do though, we would be on course to reach the lowest levels we saw last summer by the end of May this year.
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 19th 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 8th-14th March currently stands at 645, giving us a 5-7.5% confidence range of 677-693. The middle point, 685 deaths, means the rate of decline is -30.1%, a deceleration on last week’s -35.9% but still comfortably ~30%. We are now 91% down on January’s peak and 75% down on Lockdown 2.0’s peak. At our current rate of decline, we would effectively reach the lowest levels seen during last summer by the end of April.
Here is a graph showing the weekly number of vaccinations carried out in England, first and second doses separately:
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 8th-14th March, England administered 1,776341 first doses and 332,123 second doses of the coronavirus vaccine. This took our cumulative totals up to ~20.8m for first doses and ~1.13m for second doses – an increase of 9.3% and 41.7% respectively. Though the weekly total for first doses has plateaued, it is understandable given the ramp-up in second doses in recent weeks. Ministers are confident that over the next month, we shall see this trend continue as more supply becomes available. Nevertheless, we are still on target to reach the second government target of the first nine priority groups vaccinated (~27m) by the end of March.
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