Covid-19 Risk Assessment Week Ending 20 December 2021

The Omicron wave is sweeping across Bucks, with 1 in every 37 people now infected – the highest total ever seen.  If you live a ‘normal life’, it’s now inevitable that you will catch Omicron. Our key message remains that everyone needs to take action NOW to keep themselves safe. Read on for more…


 

THE RISK IN BUCKS THIS WEEK

BuDS uses 3 separate sets of Government data to give you the best idea of the risk of catching Covid-19 from an infected person in Bucks.

  • Using official test data, on Monday 13 December we calculated that there were 11,351 infected people in Bucks. By 20 December, we calculated that there were 14,824, a 31% increase.
  • Using official average R-Rate data, on Monday 13 December we calculated that there were 10,295infected people in Bucks. By 20 December, we calculated that there were 12,074, a 17% increase.
  • Using official max R-Rate data, on Monday 13 December we calculated that there were 11,287 infected people in Bucks. By 20 December, we calculated that there were 13,210, a 17% increase.

Looking at all this data together, we calculate that the number of infected people in Bucks has increased from between 10,300 – 11,400 to 12,100 – 14,850, a rise of up to 44%. This large increase is due to the continuing wave of Delta infections plus a new wave of Omicron infections on top of Delta.

We check whether our calculations are right by comparing them with the Office for National Statistics’ Infection Survey, which is independent and does not rely on reported test results. This comparison shows that our calculations are always very accurate. If you’d like to know more about how we calculate our figures and how we check them for accuracy, please use the link at the bottom of this article.

You can see how current numbers compare to the other waves of Covid-19 in Bucks by looking at the graph.

Bucks Covid-19 update week ending 20 December

Graph showing line of positive cases in Bucks since July 2020. 4 labels showing key dates along the graph and the cases at that time

 

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO MEET AN INFECTED PERSON?

The number of infected people in Bucks has increased incredibly rapidly over the last week, and there are now more infected people in Bucks than we have ever seen. This means your chance of meeting an infected person when you are out and about in Bucks is CRITICALLY 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] – 27
  • How many infected people in Aylesbury?[2] – 1,637
  • How many infected people in High Wycombe?[3] – 3,274
  • How many infected people in Amersham?[4] – 739
  • How many infected people in Chesham?[5] – 729
  • How many infected people in Buckingham?[6] – 409
  • How many infected people in Burnham?[7] – 310
  • How many infected people (adults or children) in a large school?[8] – 41
  • How many infected people in a busy town centre?[9] – 273
  • How many infected people at a large public event?[10] – 546
  • How many infected people in a busy shopping centre?[11] – 27
  • How many infected people in a busy supermarket?[12] – 8

 

HOW IS THE NHS COPING?

According to NHS data, on Monday 13 December there were 234 people infected with Covid-19 in Bucks hospitals. On 20 December, there were 210, a 10% decrease.

The fact that the number of patients with Covid-19 in Bucks hospitals has gone down might seem to suggest that Omicron is ‘milder’ than Delta. But people have only just started getting sick with Omicron and have not yet started to go into hospital. The number in hospitals will start to rapidly increase in the next 2-3 weeks as people with Omicron start to get seriously ill. Don’t be taken in by people who say that Omicron isn’t a threat because hospitalisations haven’t increased – these people don’t know what they are talking about.

Keeping Covid-19 under control is vitally important for the NHS and for everyone because, if the number of Covid-19 patients gets too high, hospitals cannot keep patients safe, and care is threatened for all patients.


 

COVID-19 DEATHS IN BUCKS

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

  • , 2 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,067
  • Between 13 and 20 December, 4 people died within 60 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,278
  • Up to 3 December, 1,292 died of Covid-19 as recorded by doctors on their death certificates (the most reliable total but for two weeks ago).

Sadly, a small number of people have been dying of Covid-19 in Bucks every week since the summer. There has not yet been a big increase in the number of people dying of Covid-19. This is because people typically die of Covid-19 3 or more weeks after catching it. As people are only just starting to catch Omicron in Bucks, it is far too early for them to have died from it. We will know over the next few weeks how many people will die from Omicron. Don’t be taken in by people who say that Omicron isn’t a threat because deaths haven’t increased – these people don’t know what they are talking about.


 

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE VACCINATED IN BUCKS?

Here are the latest vaccination figures for 16 December:

  • Secondary-age children (aged 12 to 15) – 57% have had 1 dose; 1% have had two doses and 0% have had three doses. 99.99% (29,746) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Older Teenagers (aged 16 to 17) – 73% have had 1 dose; 43% have had two doses and 2% have had three doses. 98% (13,935) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Adults (aged 18 to 70) – 85% have had 1 dose; 82% have had two doses and 48% have had three doses. 52% (196,936) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Older Adults (aged over 70) – 97% have had 1 dose; 96% have had two doses and 91% have had three doses. 9% (7,092) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron

Because 2 doses of vaccine only give low protection against Omicron, what matters now is how many people in Bucks have had 3 doses – double vaccinated plus booster. As the figures above show, nearly all children and young people in Bucks have very low protection against Omicron. Nearly 53% of adults also have very low protection against Omicron, and most worryingly, nearly a tenth of older adults have very low protection against Omicron.

The Government have said that the country needs to “win the race” between boosters and Omicron. However, with Omicron already here in Bucks, it is obvious that we have already lost the race.


 

OMICRON UPDATE

Omicron, the new variant of Covid-19, is much more dangerous than the Delta variant that we have at the moment, because:

  • Omicron spreads frighteningly easily between people, especially indoors. Only a tiny amount of virus floating in the air is enough to make you infected. This means that the precautions which might have kept you safe in the past from Delta will not keep you safe from catching Omicron. People need to use much tougher precautions to avoid catching Omicron.
  • Omicron isn’t stopped by two doses of vaccine, like Delta was. Being ‘double jabbed’ meant that you had a lower chance of catching Delta and a much lower chance of being seriously ill if you caught Delta. But two doses of vaccine does very little to stop you catching Omicron and your chance of being seriously ill if you catch Omicron is much higher.
  • Even if you have three doses of vaccine (i.e. you’ve been boosted), there is still a risk that you will get ill if you catch Omicron and that could be a serious illness. 3 or 4 ‘triple-jabbed’ people in every 10 will get ill after catching Omicron.
  • There is some evidence that children and young people may be at higher risk of being ill if they catch Omicron versus Delta, but this is not yet proven.

There is no evidence that Omicron causes ‘milder’ illness than Delta. This rumour has started because patients in the very start of the Omicron wave in South Africa had mild symptoms. But, as the South African doctors themselves have pointed out, there may be good reasons to explain that without Omicron itself being a variant which is less severe than Delta. Recent UK studies have said that there is no evidence that Omicron is ‘milder’ than Delta.

So many people in the community now have Omicron, and it is so easy to catch, that it is almost certain that, if you live a ‘normal life’, you will catch Omicron sooner or later.


 

GOVERNMENT INACTION

Despite the obvious wave of Omicron rolling over England, the Government have announced today (Monday 20 Jan) that they are not introducing any tougher precautions against Covid-19. This leaves England as the only country in the western world which has not significantly toughened precautions against Covid in the face of Omicron. Instead, the Government have said that it will continue to ‘watch the data’. It is believed that the Government have flatly rejected the recommendations of its own medical and scientific advisors to toughen precautions.

We know that many Government MPs and some Ministers are extremists who oppose any Covid precautions, and it is this faction that appears to have won the debate inside the Westminster bubble. The Government appear to be ready to watch the NHS collapse under the pressure of Covid patients and emergency mass vaccination rather than face down their political extremist groups.  Remember, because Opposition parties will vote for tougher precautions, there is nothing stopping the Government winning a vote to introduce stricter precautions. The only reason the Government are not bringing forward tougher measures is internal party politics.


 

WHAT TO DO NOW

BuDS will be publishing full advice and guidance for people during this Omicron wave. This is a summary of our advice:

  • If you are not double vaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as possible. Double vaccination may not provide complete protection against illness, but it is a great deal better than nothing. Vaccines are safe and proven, so don’t delay.
  • If you are double vaccinated, get a third booster dose as soon as possible. Boosting doesn’t give complete protection against illness, but does provide a fair level of protection which you need to have.
  • Clinically-vulnerable people should go back to shielding, or as near shielding as they can manage. This means not seeing people outside your household or bubble unless you take strict precautions to keep safe, such as asking visitors to get tested, wearing a protective face mask, and meeting in places where you can be sure of breathing only fresh air.
  • Everyone should be limiting their contact with other people as much as possible, and taking strict precautions when they have to meet other people. This means working from home or changing your working arrangements temporarily if you can, not going to big social gatherings like parties, theatres and pubs, meeting people in the safest possible circumstances, and taking thorough precautions against getting infected like wearing a face covering and washing hands.
  • We strongly advise everyone to get and wear a N95 or FFPE2 personal protective face mask which filters viruses out of the air you breathe. Get one from a reliable branded supplier, not an anonymous Amazon shop. Remember to make sure it is tightly-fitted so that air does not leak around the edges.
  • Anyone who is not shielding should test regularly to see if they have caught Omicron. Lateral flow tests are not reliable so, if you feel ill or have any symptoms of illness, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test to confirm whether you have Omicron or not.

You can have Omicron for several days before showing any symptoms, so test yourself before you meet anyone else or go anywhere. In particular, do not go anywhere near older and clinically-vulnerable people until you have tested negative on a PCR test. Do not risk your vulnerable loved one’s lives on an unreliable lateral flow home test kit.


 

MORE INFORMATION

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

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/

Sources of Help – https://buds.org.uk/category/help-in-a-crisis/  


 

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 even over Christmas and New Year, although we only have a small volunteer team working.


 

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