Covid-19 Risk Assessment Week Ending 28th February 2022

Everyone seems to have forgotten about Covid since last week. But Covid hasn’t forgotten about us. This week in the real world, there are slightly MORE people infected with Covid-19 in Bucks and a HUGE INCREASE in the number of new patients in hospital with Covid-19. And, every day, at least one person dies of Covid in Bucks – the total number of local people killed by Covid is now over 1400.

With precautions against Covid-19 largely abandoned, but more people than ever in the community infected with the virus, society remains a critically dangerous place for people who don’t want to take the risk of catching Covid. Staying Covid-Careful is essential if you don’t want to become another disregarded statistic of the ongoing pandemic.


 

Politician’s Stories…

In his update on 24 February, the day that legal controls over Covid-19 were removed, Cllr Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire Council, said: “The decision to lift the rules is backed up by the most recent data which shows a continuing decline in case numbers and hospital admissions – this is the case here in Buckinghamshire too”.

This statement by Cllr Tett does not tell the whole story and is actively misleading. ‘Cases of Covid-19’ as measured by the number of public tests done and reported have fallen dramatically, because people are increasingly no longer getting tested. This is perfectly well known and nobody – except politicians determined to deny Covid and those spreading misinformation – is still using test data. The ONS Infection Survey is recognised as the most reliable way to measure the pandemic, as Cllr Tett knows perfectly well, and the ONS Infection Survey shows Covid cases continuing to increase (with weekly fluctuations). You can see the numbers in the graph – the ONS trend is still upward while the number of reported positive tests has collapsed. BuDS asks why Cllr Tett did not give the public all the facts. Why did he choose to use what he knows is an unreliable measure and ignore what he knows to be a reliable measure?

As far as hospital admissions are concerned, official NHS data has not even been published yet for 24 February, so Cllr Tett cannot have known what admissions were doing on the day he wrote his update. If you look at the latest available official NHS data for the last month (20 Jan to 20 Feb), the 7-day rolling average of new hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 to Bucks hospitals was between 7 and 11 people per day until 9 February, when it shot upward to reach 17 people per day in mid-Feb. Since 15 February there has been a decline in new admissions, but only to 12 per day. Cllr Tett says there has been a ‘decline in hospital admissions’, but again this is only a half-truth. The average number of people being admitted every day most recently is actually higher than it was a month ago. Most people would count this as a rise. In the same way, the 7-day rolling average of patients in Bucks hospitals with Covid has also increased over February, from 46 on 1 February to 76 on 20 February. To suggest that the removal of legal precautions is justified by ‘declining’ demand on Bucks hospitals is ludicrously inaccurate.

BuDS strongly condemns misinformation and propaganda. People are still being very ill with Covid-19 and people are still dying of Covid-19 in Bucks. Covid kills far more people than road accidents, but a politician who distorted the number of road accident fatalities and injuries and told people it was safe to disregard road safety precautions would be rightly condemned. BuDS wants the truth to be told about Covid – neither alarmist nor falsely reassuring. That is what we try to do and what we will continue to do.


 

The Risk In Bucks

BuDS uses the most up to date 5-day rolling average ONS Infection Survey data covering the period to 12 February. This is of course 9 days ago but it is the most reliable data available.

Using this data, we calculate that 1 in 21 people in Bucks have Covid, which is 26,019 people.

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 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] – 48
  • How many infected people in Aylesbury?[2] – 2,870
  • How many infected people in High Wycombe?[3] – 5,740
  • How many infected people in Amersham?[4] – 1,295
  • How many infected people in Chesham?[5] – 1,278
  • How many infected people in Buckingham?[6] – 717
  • How many infected people in Burnham?[7] – 543
  • How many infected people (adults or children) in a large school?[8] – 72
  • How many infected people in a busy town centre?[9] – 478
  • How many infected people at a large public event?[10] – 957
  • How many infected people in a busy shopping centre?[11] – 48
  • How many infected people in a busy supermarket?[12] – 14

 

How Is The NHS Coping?

NHS data is always about a week behind. On 13 February there were 499 people infected with Covid-19 in Bucks hospitals. On 20 February, there were 637, 27.7% more. So, the demand on the NHS in Bucks from Covid-19-infected patients on 20 February (not now) is now higher than it was in the week before. So far, the number of people in Bucks hospitals with Covid has risen week-on-week for four weeks.

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.


 

Cpvod-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.

  • 27 February, 10 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,164. Because people are increasingly living longer even with severe Covid illness, this is the least accurate total.
  • Between 20 February and 27 February, 16 people died within 60 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,408. This total is the most clinically appropriate because of the length of time people now live with severe Covid illness.
  • Between 4 February and 11 February, 16 people died with Covid as a cause of death as recorded by doctors on their death certificates, bringing the total to 1,376. This is the most reliable total, but the data is always two weeks old.

There has been a slight fall in the number of Covid deaths in Bucks in the last week, compared to the previous two weeks which have both seen a rise. We don’t know if this is a ‘blip’ or the start of a trend. At least one person has continued to die of Covid in Bucks every single day in the last two weeks.


 

How Many People Are Vaccinated In Bucks?

Here are the latest vaccination figures for 27 February:

  • Secondary-age children (aged 12 to 15) – 67.3% have had 1 dose; 37.0% have had two doses and 0.2% have had three doses. 99.8% (29,778) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Older Teenagers (aged 16 to 17) – 77.7% have had 1 dose; 61.6% have had two doses and 10.9% have had three doses. 89.1% (12,706) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Adults (aged 18 to 70) 86.3% have had 1 dose; 83.7% have had two doses and 6.6% have had three doses. 32.4% (122,051) 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 93.2% have had three doses. 6.8% (5,229) 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 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.

Last week, vaccination in Bucks picked up a little bit, perhaps because people realised that the end of legal precautions put them at more risk. But the situation still remains far less positive than suggested by our local Councillors. While the number of vaccinated people getting boosters is going up slowly, unvaccinated children, teenagers and adults are still not coming forward for vaccination in significant numbers.

Remember, those who received their booster jab before 2 January 2022 are, week by week, becoming less protected against Omicron. While their protection against being severely ill and being admitted to hospital is still quite high, their resistance to catching Omicron and being ill at home is shrinking.


 

Omicron Facts

  • While Omicron sends fewer people into hospital with the most severe illness, it still makes people very ill at home. People catching Omicron are often unable to work or do everyday things for weeks. People should not assume Omicron will cause only mild illness like a cold – this is simply not true for many people.
  • 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.
  • It is now proven by multiple reliable studies that children and young people are at much higher risk of being ill and needing hospital treatment if they catch Omicron versus Delta. The number of children and teenagers going into hospital with Covid, and sadly dying of Covid, has sharply increased since Omicron has started to spread.

Remember, so many people in the community now have Omicron, and it is so easy to catch, that it is HIGHLY LIKELY that you will catch Omicron sooner or later if you or members of your household are active in the community, including children attending school.


 

What To Do Now

This is BuDS’ advice. We will revise this advice soon to take account of the end of legal precautions.

  • 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 high protection against severe illness which would put you in hospital.
  • Make sure children and teenagers have two or three doses of vaccine as well. Omicron is causing more severe illness in children and young people than Delta, so vaccination of these age groups is even more vital. Remember, the vaccine is as safe as any other medicine given to children.
  • Clinically-vulnerable people remain 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.
  • If there are children in a clinically-vulnerable household, we recommend you give very serious thought to home-schooling the children until the Omicron wave has reduced. With no real precautions against Covid in schools, particularly primary schools, children will inevitably bring Covid home to their parents and relatives.
  • 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 an FFPE2 personal protective face mask which filters viruses out of the air you breathe. From 1 March, you can now get a high-quality certified PPE face mask at a substantial discount thanks to a partnership between BuDS and Cambridge Masks – see link below. 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. Tests are still free until 1 April.

 

More Information

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

To find out more about the discounted FFP2 face masks for disabled and clinically vulnerable people, use this link: https://forms.office.com/r/zJqnEq6J7L

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.


 

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