Covid-19 Risk Assessment Week Ending 1 November 2021

The number of Covid-19 infected people in Bucks remains at a CRITICALLY HIGH level and BuDS urges everyone to STOP mixing with others, especially indoors, as much as possible. Read on for more

Official data from last week shows that 1 in 40 people in Bucks may now be infected with Covid-19, especially children and young people. Hospitalisations are also up very sharply, with vaccinations (except of children) still virtually at a standstill. The risk of catching Covid-19 in Bucks has never been higher.


 

HALF-TERM HASN’T STOPPED THE PANDEMIC IN BUCKS

For some months now, England has seen a runaway Covid-19 pandemic driven mostly by uncontrolled virus transmission among children and young people. The half-term holidays have seen small falls in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19, because people are mixing less and also being tested less often. In Bucks, the number of people reporting a positive test has dropped by 10% – a very small drop in the circumstances. But BuDS doesn’t just use reported positive test data to help you understand the risk. We also use other measures including the R-Rate and the trend on the independent and very reliable ONS Infection Survey. Looking at that data, it is very likely that the number of infected people in Bucks is significantly higher than indicated by the number of reported positive tests.

So, we are urging everyone NOT to believe media stories that the pandemic is getting better or that we have ‘passed the peak’ of infections.  There is a small drop in reported positive tests because it is half-term in schools, that is all. The data taken together says that the number of infected people is still GOING UP and so the risk is still GETTING HIGHER


 

VACCINATION IS ESSENTIAL, BUT IT’S NOT HAPPENING FAST ENOUGH

Vaccination of adults (over 18) in Bucks who are not eligible for booster doses is virtually at a standstill. Adults who are unvaccinated are not coming forward to get their first dose (even taking into account people who cannot be vaccinated) and people who’ve had one dose are not coming forward for their second dose. The only adults in Bucks coming forward for vaccination in large numbers are those eligible for a third ‘booster’ vaccine dose.

Teenagers and children are being vaccinated in Bucks, but very slowly. 34% of 17 & 18-year-olds and 77% of 12 to 15-year-olds in Bucks remain unvaccinated. And the Government have not even started thinking about vaccinating 5 to 12-year-olds even though vaccines have now been proven to be safe for this age group.

This has to change if the pandemic is ever to come under control. The Covid-19 virus will continue to tear through communities if large numbers remain unvaccinated. And if the virus continues to spread, it will inevitably mutate and so the whole vaccination cycle will have to start all over again.


 

HERE COME THE NEW VARIANTS…

Virologists have warned since 2020 that, if the Covid-19 virus is allowed to spread through populations, it will mutate into new forms or variants which are more contagious and potentially vaccine-resistant. This prediction came true with the development first of the ‘Kent’ variant (now called Beta) and the ‘Indian’ or Delta variant in 2020. Now a new and more infectious sub-variant of Delta, known as Delta Plus, is rapidly spreading in Bucks. (Use this link to learn more about Delta Plus: https://buds.org.uk/delta-plus-should-you-be-worried/).

There is no evidence yet that Delta Plus is a deadlier virus than Delta (although Delta is deadly enough), but the emergence of Delta Plus proves that ‘living with the virus’ is simply not a credible option. If we allow the Covid-19 virus to spread freely, the virus will continue to evolve and most probably become, eventually, resistant to vaccines and more deadly. That could put us back to the situation we saw in 2020 with mass deaths and lockdowns. To prevent this, we should be restricting the spread of the virus by a combination of vaccination and precautions like reducing mixing, mask wearing, etc. This is what all other developed nations are doing – only in England are we allowing the virus to run riot.


 

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING?

The Government announced earlier this week that, despite rising infections, hospitalisations, and deaths, they do not intend to bring back any mandatory precautions to help contain Covid-19 in England. The Government seem content for very large numbers of people to be seriously ill with Covid-19 and to die of Covid-19 rather than making any effort to save people’s lives and health which would ‘interfere with the freedom to live normally’. Read more here: https://buds.org.uk/buds-response-to-the-governments-plan-b-announcement/


 

CRITICAL ADVICE: STAY COVID-CAREFUL

The number of people in the Bucks community that you could catchCovid-19 from is CRITICALLY HIGH. 1 in 40 people in Bucks have Covid-19. The risk of catching Covid-19 in Bucks has never been higher since the January peak during lockdown. If you don’t want to catch Covid-19, it is CRITICALLY ESSENTIAL that you continue to be ‘Covid-Careful’.

Covid-Careful doesn’t mean shielding or complete self-isolation – meeting friends and family is vital for mental health, and it is still safe to meet OUTDOORS if you take sensible precautions (read our article or watch our video to learn more). But EVERYONE now should be meeting as few people outside their household as possible, and avoiding crowds, events and indoor places like shops, restaurants and pubs.


 

BREATHING CLEAN AIR IS ESSENTIAL

Delta Plus and Delta are airborne viruses – they travel mainly in the air breathed out by infected people. So, the three best ways to protect yourself are:

  1. Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and getting booster doses as soon as you can, if you’re eligible. Vaccination will help you avoid getting seriously ill if you catch Delta Plus.
  2. Making sure you are breathing clean fresh air, not air contaminated by other people’s breath. This means opening windows wide or being out of doors when you meet people who might be infected.
  3. Keeping well away from people who might be infected and breathing out the virus, by avoiding indoor places as much as possible and socially distancing even outdoors.

Wearing a loose cloth face-covering yourself, washing your hands and using hand sanitiser are still important but these precautions are not as effective against Delta and Delta Plus because the virus mainly travels by air.

There is no evidence yet that Delta Plus is more dangerous than Delta in the sense that people will get more seriously ill or be more likely to die if they catch it. But Delta is dangerous enough on its own, even to vaccinated people.

Remember, it is not safe to catch Covid-19. Even if you are not very ill when you first catch it, there is a real clinical risk that you can develop long-term conditions afterward or even end up with organ or brain damage. Over a million people, both adults and children, are already disabled by or suffering symptoms of ‘Long Covid’.


 

SCHOOLS

It is highly likely that children and teenagers attending school and college will bring Covid-19 home with them at some point when they resume after half-term. If your household includes a higher-risk person, e.g. someone who had formerly been told to shield or an older person, then now is the time to take precautions. The Department for Education has confirmed after a legal challenge that children can be kept off school to protect a vulnerable person, so please think about doing this if necessary. Contact BuDS if you’d like more information.


 

HELP IS AVAILABLE!

If you need help or support or you’re anxious about Covid-19, BuDS is here for you. Please e-mail buds-support@buds.org.uk, call 01494 211179 (voicemail) or message us and we’ll do all we can to help.


 

THE RISK IN BUCKS THIS WEEK

You catch Covid-19 from other infected people, so knowing how many infected people are around in your community is the most important fact when looking at risk. BuDS uses 4 separate sets of official data to make sure we can give you the best and most balanced picture of the risk from Covid-19 in Bucks. We are not trying to make precise mathematical calculations but assess whether the number of infected people in the local community is going up or down.


 

FIRST SET OF DATA: REPORTED POSITIVE TESTS

The UK Health Security Agency counts the number of people who test positive for Covid-19 using either a laboratory PCR test or a lateral-flow test kit later confirmed by a PCR test. BuDS adds together the daily positive test totals over the last two weeks, because people generally have Covid-19 and are infectious for about two weeks. This gives us a total number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are still infectious. This total still underestimates the true number of infected people in the community, because lots of people who have Covid-19 don’t get tested or don’t report a positive test. So, BuDS increases the number of people testing positive to try to take account of the people who are positive but don’t get tested or report a positive test.

Last week, after making the calculations shown above, we said there were 11444 infected people in Bucks. After revision of the test data by UKHSA, it turns out that the total was actually 10560. That means last week the number of reported positive tests actually rose by 11%.

On the data we have from UKHSA, this week we calculate there are 9516 infected people in Bucks,1 which (taking last week’s revised total into account) means that the number of infected people in Bucks measured by UKHSA tests has fallen slightly by 10% this week.


 

SECOND SET OF DATA: AVERAGE R RATE DATA

The UK Health Security Agency uses a range of surveys and test data every week to calculate the ‘R Rate’ for Covid-19.2 The R-rate measures how quickly the number of people infected with Covid-19 is growing or shrinking. Using the average R Rate for the South-East of England, including Bucks, we calculate that last week there were 9494 infected people in Bucks, and this week there are 12158, a very large rise of around 28%. The R Rate is now calculated to be 1.4 in the South East by UKHSA, and about 1.9 by the ONS – the overall rise we are seeing suggests that the ONS calculation is more accurate.  


 

THIRD SET OF DATA: MAXIMUM R RATE DATA

Thirdly, using the maximum R Rate for the South East of England, including Bucks, we calculate that there were 10444 infected people in Bucks last week, and now there are 13534, a huge rise of around 30%.


 

FOURTH SET OF DATA: ONS INFECTION SURVEY

The Office for National Statistics test a random sample of 50,000 people across the UK every week, whether they are ill or not, to see how many have Covid-19. This Infection Survey is the most reliable way of estimating how many people have Covid-19, because it doesn’t rely on people choosing to get a test or report a positive result.3 Unfortunately, the survey results are slow to come out – the latest fully-comparable figures we have are for the week ending 18 October, 2 weeks ago. That data shows a significant rise (23.3%) in the number of infected people across the South East as a whole, which corresponds to but is slightly lower than the 27% rise we saw in reported positive tests in Bucks in that week. The ONS still finds more infected people in Bucks than is shown by reported positive tests.


 

PUTTING ALL THE DATA TOGETHER

Looking at all the data, it is clear that the risk from Covid-19 in Bucks is HIGHER than last week. Depending on the test data you use, the number of infected people has gone from between 9500-11500 to between 9500-13500. 1 in every 40 people in Bucks is infected with Covid-19, and the risk of meeting one of those infected people in the community is CRITICALLY HIGH.


 

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO MEET AN INFECTED PERSON?

Using the UKHSA max R Rate data, which we think this week is the most likely to be accurate,4 we have calculated that there are 13534 people infected with Covid-19 in Bucks this week. At least some of these infected people in Bucks will be showing symptoms and self-isolating or been told to self-isolate by Track and Trace. Some may be in hospital. However, for the purposes of calculating risk, we will take the ‘worst case’ scenario and assume that every infected person is still out in the community potentially able to infect you. How likely are you to meet them?

How many infected people in every 1000?5 – 25

How many infected people in Aylesbury?6 – 1493

How many infected people in High Wycombe?7 – 2986

How many infected people in Amersham?8 – 674

How many infected people in Chesham?9 – 665

How many infected people in Buckingham?10 – 373

How many infected people in Burnham?11 – 283

How many infected people (adults or children) in a large school12 – 37

How many infected people in a busy town centre?13 – 249

How many infected people at a large public event?14 – 498

How many infected people in a busy shopping centre?15 – 25

How many infected people in a busy supermarket?16 – 7

Remember, people infected with Covid-19 move about. The figures above show a theoretical number based on population or crowd size to help you get an idea of the likely number. Also, you don’t necessarily have to meet 40 people to meet one with Covid-19. The first person you see in the street or supermarket might be the one person with Covid-19.


 

HOW IS THE NHS COPING?

The pressure from Covid-19 on Bucks hospitals has risen again this week, remaining HIGH. Last week, according to NHS data, 226 people were admitted to Bucks hospitals for the first time with symptoms of Covid-19 or were admitted to hospital for other reasons and found to have Covid-19 when tested in the hospital, significantly up from 178 the week before. Covid-19 continues to lead to the cancellation of operations and delays to other urgent hospital treatment for the residents of Bucks.


 

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE DYING?

2 people were recorded as dying in Bucks last week within both 28 and 60 days of a positive Covid-19 test. This brings the number of deaths in Bucks since the pandemic began to a shocking 1033 within 28 days or 1231 within 60 days. To put that in perspective, 100 times more people have died of Covid-19 in Bucks than people killed in road traffic accidents in an average year.

Historically, this 28 and 60-day fatality data underestimates the number of people dying of Covid-19, but the true total will not be known for months until finalised death certificate data is available.


 

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE VACCINATED IN BUCKS?

The vaccination programme in Bucks, other than for children, is pretty much at a standstill.  

  • 32.7% of 12- to 15-year-olds in Bucks have had one dose, almost unchanged compared tolast week. Almost none (0.2%) have had a second dose.
  • 66.0% of 16- & 17-year-olds in Bucks have had one dose, down 1% on last week.  20.5% have had two doses.
  • 84.1% of adults 18 to 70 in Bucks have had one dose, almost unchanged compared to last week. 80.0% have had two doses.
  • 96.2% of adults over 70 in Bucks have had one dose, almost unchanged on last week. 95.3% have had two doses.
  • Overall, 82.4% of the people on the NHS vaccine register in Bucks have had a first dose and 75.8% have had a second dose.

This may sound reassuring, but very large numbers of people in Bucks have still to receive any vaccine or cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons. They include 20,036 12-15-year-olds, 4,839 16 & 17-year olds, 60,117 adults under 70 and 3,008 adults over 70. In total, around 131,000 people in Bucks of all ages have not yet received even a single dose of vaccine.


 

THE KEY MESSAGE

The key message for EVERYONE hasn’t changed: this is a time to you to ACT TO PROTECT YOURSELF from both Covid-19 and Long Covid by being Covid-Careful.


 

WE ARE HERE TO HELP!

If you need advice on how to keep yourself safe, or any other form of help or support, or you’re anxious about Covid-19, BuDS is here for you. Please e-mail buds-support@buds.org.uk, call 01494 211179 (voicemail) or message us and we’ll do all we can to help.


 

MORE INFORMATION

To read the rest of our articles about Covid-19, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/category/our-work/iag-covid-19/

To learn more about the people who are more likely to die or have serious illness if they catch Covid-19, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/danger-of-covid-19/

To learn more about Long Covid, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/long-covid-july-2021-update/

To learn more how to be safer when going out, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/meeting-safely-out-of-doors/

To read our past risk posts, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/category/our-work/iag-covid-19/risk-assessments/

To see how we calculate the figures used in this post in more detail, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/risk-post-statistical-methods-explanation/  


 

UPDATES

BuDS will put out another Covid-19 update next week using the latest figures.


 

FINALLY

Please share this article on social media, but always credit BuDS. If you need help or support or you’re anxious about Covid-19, BuDS is here for you. Please e-mail buds-support@buds.org.uk, call 01494 211179 (voicemail) or message us and we’ll do all we can to help.


 

REFERENCES

[1] Using data from https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/download. The raw test figures are added together and adjusted to account for asymptomatic cases based on scientific data, in order to create a rolling two week average which best represents the number of infected people in Bucks this week. This rolling average is the figure that we use in the post.

[2] Using data from https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-r-number-in-the-uk#latest-r-number-and-growth-rate. The figure quoted is calculated in the same way as the rolling average figure described in reference 1, but using the R number to estimate the number of positive cases rather than UKHSA test data.

[3] For information on the infection survey, including the data collected (which is used by BuDS to calculate this estimate for Bucks), see https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/datasets/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveydata or https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/23april2021 for the weekly reports

[4] The ONS Infection Survey historically consistently reports more infected people than any of the other measures we use, so we think the UKHSA max R Rate data is more likely to be correct this week as it is the highest of the up-to-date data sources available.

[5] Population of approx. 543973 based on 2018 survey data, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274

[6] Population of approx. 60,000 people, from https://www.aylesburytowncouncil.gov.uk/about-aylesbury/#:~:text=Aylesbury%2C%20the%20County%20Town%20of%20Buckinghamshire%2C%20is%20a,of%20over%2060%2C000%2C%20the%20largest%20in%20Aylesbury%20Vale.

[7] Population of approx. 120,000 people, from https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/pages/About-the-council/Transparency-and-open-government/Open-data/Statistics-and-census-information.aspx

[8] Population of 27,077 as of the 2011 Census, from http://old.buckscc.gov.uk/media/1000352/Local-Community-Area-Data.xls

[9] Population of 26,718 as of the 2011 Census, from http://old.buckscc.gov.uk/media/1000352/Local-Community-Area-Data.xls

[10] Population of approx. 15,000 people, from https://www.buckingham-tc.gov.uk/

[11] Population of approx. 11360 as of the 2011 census, from https://wikishire.co.uk/wiki/Burnham,_Buckinghamshire#cite_note-ons-1

[12] Assuming pupils plus staff equals 1500 people in total

[13] Assuming 10,000 people present at any one time

[14] Assuming 20,000 people present at any one time

[15] Assuming 1000 people present at any one time

[16] Assuming 300 people present at any one time