Covid-19 Risk Assessment Week Ending 18th October 2021

The risk of meeting an infected person while you are out and about in the Bucks community has RISEN AGAIN for the fifth week in a row (to 17 October) and is approaching the peak it hit last winter. The number of patients in local hospitals with Covid-19 is also slightly HIGHER. The pandemic in Bucks is steadily getting WORSE and so we continue to urge everyone to stay extremely ‘Covid-Careful’, and to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Read on for more details.

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE PANDEMIC?

Briefly, England is in the grip of a runaway Covid-19 pandemic driven mostly by uncontrolled virus transmission among children and young people. While these younger people are less badly affected by Covid-19, they are of course passing on the virus to their parents and other relatives and people they meet. So, the numbers of older people with Covid-19, who are more likely to need hospital treatment, are also starting to increase. The Government are aware of this, but have said their policy of ‘wait and see’ will continue.

The increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients, together with the growth in normal winter diseases, means we now have a crisis in the NHS in England. Hospitals are filling up with Covid-19 patients – it was reported that, on 7 October, 98% of all hospital beds in England were full.1 It is generally accepted that patient care is unsafe once bed occupancy goes above 85%.2 Last weekend, the Association of Ambulance Trust Chief Executives stated that every ambulance service in England had declared an emergency. As we see in the media, patients are being forced to queue outside A&E departments for many hours before they can be seen and sadly some have died in ambulances waiting to be unloaded. Normal NHS treatment is grinding to a halt, with non-emergency operations widely cancelled. Despite this obvious crisis, the Government have shown no signs of acting.

This situation is exactly what most scientists predicted would happen when the Government abolished all legal controls and anti-Covid measures in schools and colleges.


 

WHY ISN’T VACCINATION STOPPING THE SPREAD OF COVID?

Vaccination *is* slowing the spread of Covid-19. Without vaccination, the NHS would have been overwhelmed weeks ago. But there are still many millions of children and adults in the UK who are not vaccinated or who cannot be vaccinated, and these unvaccinated people do not have any protection against Covid-19. Also, the amount of protection given by the vaccine wears off quite quickly – after 5 months, your protection has roughly halved.3 This is why the Government is starting to slowly offer third vaccination doses (often called boosters), to keep protection levels high. But the booster programme is happening much too slowly to stop many tens of thousands of vaccinated people getting seriously ill and dying from Covid-19.


 

CRITICAL ADVICE: DON’T FOLLOW THE CROWD – STAY COVID-CAREFUL

The number of people in the Bucks community that you could catch Covid-19 from is VERY HIGH and rapidly getting HIGHER. If you don’t want to catch Covid-19, it is absolutely 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 avoiding crowds, events and indoor places like shops, restaurants and pubs.


 

AVOID CROWDS & INDOOR PLACES

A recent study by a statistician for the Financial Times looked at why infection rates are so much higher in England than in other European nations.4 The key difference found between England and those other nations is that only England encourages people to mix together indoors, e.g. in shops, schools, offices, pubs, stadiums etc. The Delta variant of Covid-19 is airborne and loose cloth masks are not much protection against it. The safest way to avoid catching it is to stay away from the breath of infected people. You do this by avoiding places where there are lots of people and keeping your distance from others. European nations are helping do this by keeping many public places closed and limiting numbers inside them. England is not – and the pandemic is out of control here as a result.

BuDS strongly recommends that you STAY OUT of indoor places as much as you can, and avoid crowds at all costs, even out of doors.


 

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

Public Health England count 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 7114 infected people in Bucks. After revision of the test data by PHE, it turns out that the total was actually 7483. That means last week the number of reported positive tests actually rose by 20%.

On the data we have from PHE, this week we calculate there are 8977 infected people in Bucks,[5] which (taking last week’s revised total into account) means that the number of infected people in Bucks measured by PHE tests has again risen significantly by 20% this week.


 

SECOND SET OF DATA: AVERAGE R RATE DATA

Public Health England use a range of surveys and test data every week to calculate the ‘R Rate’ for Covid-19.6 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 6336 infected people in Bucks, and this week there are 7615, a large rise of around 20%. The R Rate is still calculated to be 1 in the South East by PHE, and about 1.3 by the ONS – the rise we are seeing suggests that the ONS calculation (which is going up) 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 7272 infected people in Bucks last week, and now there are 8495, a large rise of around 17%.


 

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.7 Unfortunately, the survey results are slow to come out – the latest fully-comparable figures we have are for the week ending 4 October, 2 weeks ago. That data shows a significant rise (24.3%) in the number of infected people across the South East as a whole, which corresponds to and is much higher than the 14% 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 6300-7400 to between 7600-9000. 1 in every 61 people in Bucks is infected with Covid-19, and the risk of meeting one of those infected people in the community is VERY HIGH.


 

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO MEET AN INFECTED PERSON?

Using the PHE test data, which we think this week is the most likely to be accurate,8 we have calculated that there are 8977 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?9 – 17

How many infected people in Aylesbury?10 – 990

How many infected people in High Wycombe?11 – 1980

How many infected people in Amersham?12 – 447

How many infected people in Chesham?13 – 441

How many infected people in Buckingham?14 – 248

How many infected people in Burnham?15 – 188

How many infected people (adults or children) in a large school16 – 25

How many infected people in a busy town centre?17 – 165

How many infected people at a large public event?18 – 330

How many infected people in a busy shopping centre?19 – 17

How many infected people in a busy supermarket?20 – 5

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 61 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, 150 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, up from 149 the week before. This number is slightly higher than last week, with the overall upward trend still evident. Already, Covid-19 is leading to the cancellation of operations and delays to other urgent hospital treatment for the residents of Bucks.


 

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE DYING?

1 person was recorded as dying in Bucks last week within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, and 2 within 60 days of a positive Covid-19 test. This brings the number of deaths in Bucks since the pandemic began to a shocking 1021 within 28 days or 1217 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 continues to move forward extremely slowly.

We have revamped our vaccination data from this week to help you understand progress in Bucks. It is not an encouraging picture.

  • 22.8% of 12- to 15-year-olds in Bucks have had one dose, up only 5% on last week. Almost none (0.3%) have had a second dose.
  • 65.6% of 16- & 17-year-olds in Bucks have had one dose, up only 1% on last week.  17.8% have had two doses.
  • 83.8% of adults 18 to 70 in Bucks have had one dose, almost unchanged compared to last week. 79.5% have had two doses.
  • 95.9% of adults over 70 in Bucks have had one dose, unchanged on last week. 94.9% have had two doses.
  • Overall, 81.2% of the people on the NHS vaccine register in Bucks have had a first dose and 75.3% 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 22,822 12-15-year-olds, 4,762 16 & 17-year olds, 61,448 adults under 70 and 3,117 adults over 70. In total, around 136,000 people in Bucks of all ages have not yet received even a single dose of vaccine. If Covid starts to run riot through these unprotected people, the hospitals will soon be overwhelmed.


 

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] Around 121,943 NHS England hospital beds were occupied on 7 October out of 123,707, meaning occupancy of beds is currently at 98.5%: leaving just 1.5% of beds empty, just 1,764. Source: NHS data.

[2] https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2079

[3] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02183-8/fulltext

[4] https://www.ft.com/content/34582534-4510-4d45-bcba-2f9e04005309

[5] 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.

[6] 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 PHE test data.

[7] 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

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

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

[10] 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.

[11] 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[19] Assuming 1000 people present at any one time

[20] Assuming 300 people present at any one time