Covid-19 Risk Assessment Week Ending 2 May 2022

Some cautiously good news about Covid-19 in Buckinghamshire, as it looks as if we may be coming to the end of the latest wave caused by the Omicron BA.2 variant. BUT there are new variants queuing up to replace BA.2, so the current fall in infection levels won’t last very long. And, even with the fall, the risk of catching Covid when out and about in Bucks is still EXTREMELY HIGH. Sadly, Bucks hospitals remain full of Covid patients and Covid deaths remain high.

BuDS urges everyone to be Covid-Cautious and keep taking sensible precautions against catching Covid. Wear a FFP2 or N95 filter mask in public places, breathe clean air, avoid crowds and busy places, work from home if you can, and protect your older and vulnerable relatives and friends.


 

What’s Happening With Covid-19?

Since Christmas 2021, Bucks has been in the grip of a massive explosion of Covid infections. From January to February, BA.1 swept the county and, as BA.1 ran out of people to infect, BA.2 took over, infecting and re-infecting very large numbers of people. We’ve all seen this in our own circles, with lots of people we know catching Covid. Now, in late April and early May, Omicron BA.2 is running out of people to infect, and numbers are finally coming down.

But this ISN’T the end of Covid, just a pause. In the United States and South Africa, new variants have already started to take over from BA.2. In South Africa, variants BA.4 and BA.5 are more contagious than BA.2 and are spreading fast. In the United States, the BA.2.12.1 variant is spreading incredibly quickly – it seems to be 25% more contagious than BA.2. We know from the UKHSA that all these variants are already present here in the UK, so it is only a matter of time before they start to spread. The only question is how quickly. We may have a couple of months of relatively lower (but still high) infection levels over the summer, or infection levels might start to rise again very soon.

The important fact to remember is that catching Covid does not mean you can’t catch it again. Omicron variants stimulate only weak immunity which soon wears off, so people can – and are – catching Covid repeatedly. And every time you catch Covid, the impact is worse, with more risk of developing long-term serious conditions such as organ failure, fatigue and brain damage.

Also, of course, while infection levels remain high, more and more people will develop serious Covid illness and die. Bucks hospitals are now having to cope with hundreds of acutely ill Covid patients every week, with no end in sight. And, sadly, the death rate here in Bucks also continues to rise.

This situation is entirely AVOIDABLE. There are many sensible things that the Government could do to reduce infection levels which would not hurt the economy or restrict people’s ‘freedom’, but it has chosen not to do them. So, it is up to YOU to protect yourself.


 

Get A Protective Mask!

Wearing a protective face mask which filters the virus out of the air you breathe is one of the two best ways to protect yourself from Covid (the other is being fully vaccinated and boosted). Disabled and clinically vulnerable people can get high-quality fully-certified reusable PPE face masks at big discounts thanks to partnerships between BuDS and two leading mask manufacturers, Cambridge Masks and Airinum. There is a link at the end of this article to the form to learn more and get the discounts. Any number of masks can be bought, and the offer is open to all disabled and clinically vulnerable people in the UK, not just in Bucks.


 

The Risk In Bucks

BuDS uses the most up to date 5-day rolling average ONS Infection Survey data covering the period to 23 April. This is of course 9 days ago, but it is the most reliable data available.

Using this data, we calculate that 1 in 26 people in Bucks have Covid, which is 21,136 people. This is much lower than it was in our last risk assessment and suggests that the BA.2 wave is at last starting to come to an end.  

You can see how current numbers compare to the other waves of Covid-19 in Bucks by looking at the graph. We have included the number of positive tests reported purely for comparison – these test results are no longer of any value in tracking the virus.


 

How Likely Are You To Meet An Infected Person?

Your chance of meeting an infected person when you are out and about in Bucks remains EXTREMELY HIGH.

If we assume that every infected person is active in their local community, these figures will help you understand the risk of meeting one.

  • How many infected people in every 1000?[1] – 39
  • How many infected people in Aylesbury?[2] – 2,331
  • How many infected people in High Wycombe?[3] – 4,663
  • How many infected people in Amersham?[4] – 1,052
  • How many infected people in Chesham?[5] – 1,038
  • How many infected people in Buckingham?[6] – 583
  • How many infected people in Burnham?[7] – 441
  • How many infected people (adults or children) in a large school?[8] – 58
  • How many infected people in a busy town centre?[9] – 389
  • How many infected people at a large public event?[10] – 777
  • How many infected people in a busy shopping centre?[11] – 39
  • How many infected people in a busy supermarket?[12] – 12

 

How Is The NHS Coping?

There has been a rise in the number of patients in Buck’s hospitals with Covid. This is because patients are still coming forward who got infected in the last two weeks. Only a long-sustained fall in infection rates will reduce the number of acutely ill people going into hospital  

We are now giving you more detailed figures about people in hospital with Covid so that you can understand the situation better. These figures are for 24 April, the latest available:

Total number of Bucks hospital patients with Covid – 570.

This total includes people admitted with Covid and those who caught it in hospital. It is 1.9% higher than the previous week (559). Not all these people will be seriously ill with Covid – see below.

Total number of people admitted with Covid – 123

This total is of people who had Covid on admission to hospital, whether they were admitted because of Covid illness or found to have Covid when admitted for another reason. Not all these people will be seriously ill with Covid. This figure is 32.3% higher than last week (93).

Estimated total of people in hospital primarily for Covid illness – 274

This figure is 2% higher than last week (268).

The NHS estimate that around 48% of patients infected with Covid in hospitals in the SE of England are there primarily because of Covid illness. We have applied this percentage to the total number of patients in Bucks hospitals who are infected with Covid. All these people are likely to be seriously ill with Covid. This week, one patient is in intensive care with Covid in Bucks.

Estimated total of people admitted to hospital primarily for Covid illness – 59

This figure is 32.3% higher than last week (45).

The NHS estimate that around 48% of patients infected with Covid in hospitals in the SE of England are there primarily because of Covid illness. We have applied this percentage to the total number of patients in Bucks hospitals admitted with Covid to give you a rough idea of how many people are being admitted to hospital because of Covid illness. All these people are likely to be seriously ill with Covid.

 Keeping Covid-19 under control is vitally important for the NHS and for everyone. If the number of Covid-19 patients gets too high, or high numbers of NHS staff are off sick or self-isolating, or both, hospitals cannot keep patients safe, and care is threatened for all patients.


 

Covid-19 Deaths In Bucks

We use death statistics for the last two weeks rather than just the last week, so you get a more accurate figure. Over all three counting measures, the number of deaths in Bucks is sadly remaining high as Omicron claims more victims.

There are three ways of counting the number of Covid-related deaths in Bucks.

  • 1 May, 13 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,295. Because people are increasingly living longer even with severe Covid illness, this is the least accurate total.
  • Between 17 April and 1 May, 27 people died within 60 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,593. This total is the most clinically appropriate because of the length of time people now live with severe Covid illness.
  • Between 8 April and 15 April, 11 people died with Covid as a cause of death as recorded by doctors on their death certificates, bringing the total to 1,451. This is the most reliable total, but the data is always two weeks old.

Deaths from Covid in Bucks continue at the rate of two to four every DAY. At least one person has died of Covid in Bucks every single day in the last twelve weeks.


 

How Many People Are Vaccinated In Bucks?

For the fourth week running, vaccination has made virtually no progress in Bucks across all age groups.

Effectively, vaccination has ground to a halt in Bucks.

Here are the latest vaccination figures for 24 April:

  • Young children (aged 5 to 11) – 8.2% have had 1 dose; 0.1% have had two doses, and none have had three doses. 100% (51,108) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Secondary-age children (aged 12 to 15) – 64.3% have had 1 dose; 43.0% have had two doses and 0.4% have had three doses. 99.6% (30,252) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Older Teenagers (aged 16 to 17) – 76.8% have had 1 dose; 61.7% have had two doses and 16.7% have had three doses. 83.3% (11,839) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Adults (aged 18 to 70) – 86.2% have had 1 dose; 83.9% have had two doses and 68.3% have had three doses. 31.7% (119,985) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Older Adults (aged over 70) – 96.9% have had 1 dose; 96.3% have had two doses and 93.8% have had three doses. 6.1% (4,888) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron

As the figures above show, virtually all children and young people in Bucks have very low protection against Omicron. Nearly a third of adults also have very low protection against Omicron, and most worryingly, thousands of older adults still have very low protection against Omicron.

Remember, those who received their booster jab before 8 March 2022 are, week by week, becoming less protected against Omicron. While their protection against being severely ill and being admitted to hospital is still good, their resistance to catching Omicron and being ill at home is shrinking.


 

Offers & More Information

If you’d like to know more about the issues below, use the appropriate link.

To find out more about the discounts for certified FFP2 and N95 face masks for disabled and clinically vulnerable people, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/face-mask-offers/

How we calculate our figures and how we check them for accuracy – https://buds.org.uk/risk-post-statistical-methods-explanation/

All our Covid-19 articles – https://buds.org.uk/category/our-work/iag-covid-19/


 

We Are Here To Help!

BuDS can help you by answering questions, providing information, helping you find practical support or help in a crisis or being a friendly voice if you’re lonely or isolated. If you’d like any help or support from us, message us through social media, e-mail buds-support@buds.org.uk or leave us a voicemail on 01494 211179. We’ll do our very best to help you.


 

References

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

[2] 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.

[3] 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Assuming 1000 people present at any one time

[12] Assuming 300 people present at any one time