Covid-19 Risk Assessment Week Ending 4th April 2022

The Covid-19 EMERGENCY in Buckinghamshire continues to get worse. ONS data shows that, as of 19 March, 1 in every 12 people in Bucks has Covid-19 – over 45,000 people in the County! This is the highest number of infected people ever seen in the County.

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.

Remember, Covid-19 is NOT like the flu or a cold. It matters if you catch Covid. Covid-19 is medically proven to cause widespread organ damage and long-term illness in millions of people, which the flu has never done. Even if you have manageable Covid illness at home, the longer-term effect on you and your future could be devastating. Taking sensible precautions is in your own best interest, especially if you are disabled, have medical conditions, or are an older person.


 

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). 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.


 

Here Comes The Next Variant – Omicron XE

The current huge wave in Covid-19 infections across England is caused by the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant BA.2 has been the dominant or main Covid variant in England and it is expected to keep infection levels very high until the beginning of May.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has now officially confirmed that a further, even more infectious, Omicron variant has started to spread in the UK.[1] This new variant is called Omicron XE. Omicron XE is estimated to be around 10% more infectious than Omicron BA.2 and will almost certainly replace Omicron BA.2 as the main Covid virus circulating in the UK.

Scientists don’t know yet whether Omicron XE will give more severe symptoms or cause more hospitalisations than current virus strains. Scientists also don’t know if having caught Omicron BA.2 or its predecessor Omicron BA.1 will give people immunity against catching Omicron XE. We do know, however, that both Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 give weak and short immunity against catching Covid again. This suggests that the most likely situation, as we found with Omicron BA.1, is that lots of people will catch Covid XE despite having had Covid once, twice, or even three times before.

Lots of politicians have said that it is better for everyone to ‘just catch Covid’ and ‘get it over with’, so that everyone is immune to Covid in the future. This is called the ‘herd immunity’ idea. But the Covid virus doesn’t listen to politicians. It has evolved, just like other coronaviruses, to be able to REINFECT people who have already caught the virus before. Covid isn’t the flu, but it does share the ability of the flu to come back in a new form which people can catch again and again.

What this means for you is that, as the current massive wave of Omicron BA.2 starts to go down in May, a new wave of Omicron XE probably will take over. This means that the number of infected people, and the risk of catching Covid, will probably stay high over the summer. We won’t have as good information about this, as the Government have stopped mass testing and surveillance of Covid. BuDS will continue, however, to use reliable scientific sources to keep you up to date. You can find links to these sources at the end of this article.


 

The Risk In Bucks

BuDS uses the most up to date 5-day rolling average ONS Infection Survey data covering the period to 26 March. This is of course 9 days ago, but it is the most reliable data available.

Using this data, we calculate that 1 in 12 people in Bucks have Covid, which is 45,316 people. This is once again higher than it was in our last risk assessment.

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. Beware of people saying that the risk is falling because the number of tests is falling – now that free testing has finished, the number of reported test results isn’t any guide to how many infected people there are.


 

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, in fact at its highest level ever.

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?[2] – 83
  • How many infected people in Aylesbury?[3] – 4,998
  • How many infected people in High Wycombe?[4] – 9,997
  • How many infected people in Amersham?[5] – 2,256
  • How many infected people in Chesham?[6] – 2,226
  • How many infected people in Buckingham?[7] – 1,250
  • How many infected people in Burnham?[8] – 946
  • How many infected people (adults or children) in a large school?[9] – 126
  • How many infected people in a busy town centre?[10] – 833
  • How many infected people at a large public event?[11] – 1,666
  • How many infected people in a busy shopping centre?[12] – 83
  • How many infected people in a busy supermarket?[13] – 25

 

How Is The NHS Coping?

Buckinghamshire hospitals are officially the second worst in England in protecting patients against Covid. Many people admitted to Bucks hospitals for other reasons caught Covid in the hospital. Also, of course, many people admitted to hospital for other reasons are found to have Covid when they arrive at hospital. Because of this, 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 27 March, the latest available:

Total number of Bucks hospital patients with Covid – 440.

This total includes people admitted with Covid and those who caught it in hospital. It is lower than the previous week (517) mainly because less people caught Covid in hospital. Not all these people will be seriously ill with Covid – see below.

Total number of people admitted with Covid – 100

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 higher than last week (97).

Estimated total of people in hospital primarily for Covid illness – 211

This figure is lower than last week (249).

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 – 48

This figure is higher than last week (47).

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.

  • 3 April, 12 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,202. Because people are increasingly living longer even with severe Covid illness, this is the least accurate total.
  • Between 20 March and 3 April, 13 people died within 60 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,458. This total is the most clinically appropriate because of the length of time people now live with severe Covid illness.
  • Between 11 March and 18 March, 8 people died with Covid as a cause of death as recorded by doctors on their death certificates, bringing the total to 1,415. This is the most reliable total, but the data is always two weeks old.

As you would expect with a rise on Covid cases, there has again been a rise in the number of Covid deaths in Bucks. At least one person has died of Covid in Bucks every single day in the last eight weeks.


 

How Many People Are Vaccinated In Bucks?

For the first time ever, vaccination has made virtually no progress in Bucks across all age groups. The only small progress has been boosters for older teenagers (16-17), and second doses for secondary school age children (12-15). Effectively, vaccination has ground to a halt in Bucks.

Here are the latest vaccination figures for 3 April:

  • Secondary-age children (aged 12 to 15) – 68.6% have had 1 dose; 45.2% have had two doses and 0.5% have had three doses. 99.5% (29,698) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Older Teenagers (aged 16 to 17) – 78.6% have had 1 dose; 65.1% have had two doses and 18.9% have had three doses. 79.7% (11,366) are not fully vaccinated and vulnerable to Omicron
  • Adults (aged 18 to 70) – 86.4% have had 1 dose; 84.0% have had two doses and 68.5% have had three doses. 31.5% (118,873) 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 93.3% have had three doses. 6.5% (4,996) 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.

Remember, those who received their booster jab before 6 February 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 And 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] From UKHSA Technical Briefing 39 Release

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

[3] 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.

[4] 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[12] Assuming 1000 people present at any one time

[13] Assuming 300 people present at any one time