Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
23rd January 2022
DOWNWARD TREND IN DAILY CASES STALLS
Pressure on hospitals reducing
We keep an eye on the published government figures and monitor the media to asses the level of risk for Seniors in the Malvern Hills district. We also provide links to where further information can be found.
This page is normally updated every Sunday between 1800 and 2400 hours GMT.
Information about Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website:
Many people are beginning to think the COVID-19 epidemic is all but over, while others are less sure. Those who are fully vaccinated, like us, are probably feeling pretty fireproof, but can catch COVID and feel poorly.
The incidence of Omicron is still high across the whole of the UK and many people will be exposed to the virus in coming days and weeks. The good news is that the pressure on hospitals has reduced, but some unwelcome news is that the downward trend in daily cases reached a plateau last week; probably something to do with unvaccinated children aged under 12 years. The relaxation of PLAN B restrictions, and the possibility of new variants, now makes the medium term outlook uncertain.
The rise in the COVID daily death rate since the New Year, which had been concerning, is now thought to be due to the inclusion of cases where elderly people have COVID but die from other causes, skewing the statistics.
COVID hospital Intensive Care beds are said to be mostly occupied either by those who are unvaccinated or have had only 2 doses of the vaccine, so make sure to get your booster jab if you have not already done so.
Lateral Flow Device kits which only require a nose swab can be used to test for COVID at home, for example before either going to an event or visiting friends.
A local summary of COVID cases can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.
Note: use the arrow <> buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard screen to move between pages.
How to get vaccinated
Under the government's plan to deal with the Omicron Emergency, all those aged 16+ years are now eligible to book a booster 3 months after their second dose.
For information about walk-in centres in Worcestershire go to the website:
and click the Vaccine Rollout tab at the top of the page.
Otherwise either see the NHS website for walk-in opening times and vaccine availability:
Or click this link for more information and to book a vaccination on-line:
Note: the immuno-compromised may be offered a third jab as part of their primary course, followed by a booster 3 months later.
More about vaccinations
The Omicron variant is now dominant and still spreading rapidly. Despite what some say it's not a mild illness so it is essential to get your booster jab in January if you have not already done so.
Our bar chart below shows the total number of:
Vaccinometer as of 23rd January 2022
You won't see much change from last week's chart as the vaccination rate has slowed to a snail's pace compared to pre-Christmas.
The population of the UK aged 12+ is about 58M, so were everyone in that age group to be fully vaccinated the lower two blue lines showing 1st and 2nd doses should ideally reach 58M. Progress towards that goal is now slow.
Currently there are about 6M in this age group who are unvaccinated, which is a lot, and 4M still to get their 2nd dose. That alone is not enough and a third jab is necessary to obtain protection from Omicron.
According to 'Politics Midlands' about 74% of individuals in the rural Malvern Hills have been triple jabbed compared to only 44% in some areas of Birmingham.
Vaccination statistics can be found on the Vaccination tab of the Coronavirus Dashboard.
The number of booster jabs given in England can be found in a spreadsheet on the NHS England website. Look in the data section for the COVID-19 daily announced vaccinations Excel file which gives a breakdown of jabs by region and age.
A summary can also be found on the Coronavirus Dashboard.
The government says everyone aged 18+ years has been offered a booster jab. To date about 48M have had two doses, and just under 37M booster doses have been administered, suggesting 11M still to boost in the UK.
A chart of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.
Hint: click the country list on the left hand side of the screen to add or remove countries from the chart.
Number of cases
During the last week the average rate of people testing COVID positive in the UK reported by PHE on the 'Coronavirus Dashboard' fell slightly from about 107,722 to 94,238 cases per day but is now flat-lining.
The ZOE COVID Symptom Study estimates 144,000 cases per day compared to 155,000 last week suggesting a fall of 7%.
The chart below shows how the daily rate reported by PHE has varied since 1st September 2020.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September 2020 to 23rd January 2022
Zooming in, the next chart shows in more detail how daily cases have begun to flat-line at about 95,000 new cases per day, double the rate before Christmas.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 12th December 2021 to 23rd January 2022
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE rose by 637,922 to 15,859,228.
Note: excludes Sunday's new cases for Scotland which could add a further 7,000.
In Worcestershire there have now been 127,857confirmed cases of COVID-19 an increase of 6,734 on last week.
The next chart shows how daily cases in Worcestershire have also flat-lined at just under 1,000 new cases per day during the last week.
Daily cases in Worcestershire from 1st December 2021 to 23rd January 2022
The breakdown by Worcestershire Lower Tier Local Authorities (LTLA) is shown in the following table, together with comparisons for Herefordshire, a more sparsely populated county, and the city of Leicester.
Note: the cumulative cases are copied from the 'Cases by area' (whole pandemic) data set of the Coronavirus Dashboard. The weekly increase is the difference between this week and last week's total.
Cumulative cases reported by PHE in Worcestershire to 23rd January 2022
Note: the weekly increase is indicative; the seven day average by area, which varies day to day, is an alternative metric that can be found on the Coronavirus dashboard.
The main point to note is that cases in Worcestershire remain high.
Cases in Malvern Hills by age group
On the cases tab of the Coronavirus dashboard you can either select the county of Worcestershire or a local authority such as the Malvern Hills, and there you can find a heat map showing cases by age group over time and a chart comparing the number of cases under 60 years with those aged 60+.
The latest figures show the infection rate in both age groups falling with cases in the younger age group about double that of the older.
The rolling number of cases per 100,000 per week reported for 16th January has fallen to 389 in the over 60s and 916 in those aged 0 - 59 years.
At the bottom of the Coronavirus Dashboard (daily update) page there is an Interactive Map which is coloured to show infection rates across the country. This shows the high infection rates across the UK are falling in most areas.
Note: the Interactive Map works on desktop PCs but it's possible you may encounter difficulties using a tablet or smartphone.
Recent weekly cases to 17th January are: North Malvern 76; Malvern Link 53; Pickersleigh 47; Barnards Green 46; Malvern Wells and Priory 37; Callow End and Hanley 42; Upton and Welland 48.
Another map can be found on the Zoe COVID Study website indicating extrapolated cases based on reports from those using the Zoe app.
Number of deaths
Statistics on COVID deaths are published by Public Health England, The Office of National Statistics, and NHS England.
Public Health England reports that the cumulative total of COVID (28) deaths in UK hospitals and care homes rose by 1,872 in the last week to 153,862 with the daily average flat-lining at about 265 deaths per day.
In comparison averaged over recent years 1,700 people die daily from all causes.
COVID-19 death rate 1st September 2021 to 23rd January 2022
Since the New Year, deaths reported by PHE have been higher than those recorded by ONS, suggesting a possible flaw in the PHE metrics.
Note: according to an article in the Daily Telegraph, Sajid Javid suspects the upturn in the death rate may be due to an increasing number of elderly patients, testing COVID positive, dying from other causes. Possibly up to 44% of currently reported cases might not be 'true' COVID deaths.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) separately reports registered deaths in England and Wales where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate. The ONS figures lag the PHE figures by 10 - 14 days and do not include Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Click for national ONS data on deaths (Excel spreadsheet)
The ONS figures are broken down by District providing a glimpse of where deaths are occurring. The provisional cumulative total of COVID related deaths in Worcestershire reported by the ONS up to 7th January (week 1 of 2022) is shown below.
Note: the numbers are from the ONS Death Registrations-Pivot table
Provisional cumulative COVID-19 deaths registered by ONS to 7th January 2022
Note: summation of rows 9 to 339 of the ONS deaths Registrations-Pivot table (after correction by ONS).
There was 1 death in a care home in Bromsgrove; 1 death at home in the Malvern Hills; 1 death in hospital in Redditch; 1 death at home in the city of Worcester; 1 death in a care home and 1 in hospital in Wychavon; and 1 death in hospital in Wyre Forest.
In England and Wales 918 COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the week to 7th January, 377 more than the week before (see note). Of these 102 were in a care home, 77 at home, 17 in a hospice, 715 in hospital and 7 elsewhere.
Note: these figures might be distorted by seasonally delayed registrations from 2021 in which case a more realistic figure might be an average of the last two weeks giving 750 deaths per week in England and Wales rather than 918; both figures are lower than the rate being reported by PHE (see above).
The provisional UK COVID-19 death toll (as reported by PHE and ONS) for all weeks of the epidemic can be found on the Deaths tab of the Coronavirus Dashboard.
NHS England figures for Worcestershire
The table below shows latest COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England on 21st January 2022.
Risk of COVID-19 death by age band (Delta)
NHS England provides an analysis of COVID-19 deaths in hospital in England and Wales by age band. Shown below is a breakdown of deaths for the period 1st August 2021 to 25th November 2021 when the daily death rate fell to 125.
Relative risk of COVID-19 death by age band for Delta variant
Those aged 60+ years account for 87% of deaths compared to 92% last year, but remember that due to vaccination the death rate as a proportion of new cases is five to ten times lower than in 2020.
The majority of these deaths are likely to be of the vaccine-hesitant, and those with co-morbidities such as Diabetes, the frail, and those that are immuno-compromised. Pregnant mothers, the overweight and deprived individuals with a poor diet are also said to be at increased risk.
An NHS leaflet offered to patients being admitted to hospital suggests we are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 infection if we have one or more of the following conditions:
Recent figures from the ONS suggest healthy individuals with no underlying conditions are at low risk of dying from Omicron, but of course not many Seniors fit that category.
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics and NHS bed occupancy.
Headline summary of patients in hospital reported on 23rd January 2022
Having reached a peak, the trend in UK bed occupancy is downwards.
Bed numbers by region in England
Tabulated figures for COVID bed occupancy in England can be found on the NHS England website and these give a good indication of direction of travel:
Note: see the latest Daily Admissions and Beds spreadsheets, then look for all COVID beds.
Comparison of All beds COVID data for London and Midlands
In the last week the number of COVID-19 General and Acute beds fell by 25% in London, where Omicron seeded first, while in the Midlands COVID beds fell by 10%.
For the same period, COVID beds in England fell from 16,537 to 14,320 a drop of 14%.
For comparison, the number of beds occupied during the peak of the epidemic in January 2021 is shown in red in the right hand column of the table.
Worcestershire hospital beds
Tabulated figures for bed occupancy in Worcestershire Acute and Care hospitals can also be found on the NHS England website.
A summary can be found on the UK government Coronavirus Dashboard which reports on 22nd January there were 84 COVID-19 patients occupying Worcestershire Acute Hospital beds, of which 7 are ventilated beds; roughly 31% of the peak experienced last January and 9 higher than last week.
Some of these may be patients testing COVID positive after admission to hospital for other reasons.
Note 1: patients entering hospital for elective procedures normally have to test COVID negative before admission, but not patients arriving via A&E; some transmission in hospitals possible.
Note 2: Healthcare statistics can be found on the Healthcare tab of the UK Coronavirus Dashboard. At the top of the page where it says Healthcare in United Kingdom, click the drop down arrow to select Area Type as NHS Trusts, and Area Name as Worcester Acute Hospitals.
One patient in the Malvern Hills died of COVID in the last 7 days.
Forecast for the week ahead
Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 30th January) the cumulative total of UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by 600,000 towards 16,460,000 with the rolling average of daily new cases flat-lining at about 95,000.
In Worcestershire up to 7,000 new cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant can be expected, and up to 800 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
The number of UK COVID (28) deaths (as recorded by PHE) may increase by 1,400 towards 155,300 during the 7 days ending 30th January 2022, with the average daily death rate possibly falling from 265 towards 150 deaths per day.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 0.2% death rate, the 6,734 new cases this week could translate to a maximum of 13 COVID deaths per week by the middle of February.
Daily hospital admissions could fall towards 1,300 by the end of next week, tracking daily cases.
Longer term outlook
The fall in daily cases stalled last week, probably due to children returning to school where infections are said to be rising, including in Malvern.
The relaxation of PLAN B restrictions in England will result in increased mingling causing the Effective Reproduction Rate of the virus to rise, and as cases are already flat-lining this could cause daily cases to rise, less so if the public remains cautious. Daily hospital admissions may in consequence drift upwards as the virus seeks out the frail and elderly who have not been fully vaccinated with 3 doses.
Due to uncertainty about the behaviour of the public, trends cannot be projected beyond next week.
For a fixed level of vaccination, daily cases have been a signpost to whether daily hospital admissions and deaths are going to go up or down. Based on our heuristic 'rules of thumb' hospital admissions and deaths during early January appear to be to following daily cases very roughly in the ratio:
Advice for Seniors
We judge the risk of exposure to the Omicron variant still to be HIGH; see our riskometer opposite.
How this affects you will depend on your vaccination status. UKHSA say those who have had two doses plus a booster have roughly a 12% chance of being hospitalised compared to the unvaccinated.
Two doses give little or no protection.
6M people remain unvaccinated in the UK and for many time is running out; perhaps up to 6,000 will die unnecessarily in coming weeks.
Recently there have been no more than 9 COVID related deaths per week in Worcestershire which has a population of 600,000 so we currently judge the risk of death for triple vaccinated Seniors to be fairly LOW while the risk of Long COVID might be MODERATE .
In these uncertain times, when it is quite possible, despite being triple vaccinated, for Seniors to become ill with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the simple safeguards to remember are to:
1) Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to avoid transferring virus from contaminated surfaces to your mouth, eyes and nose. If outdoors use an alcohol based hand gel.
2) Two metres is further than you think - roughly an arm and a walking stick away.
3) The COVID Symptom Study people suggest that if you have symptoms of a common cold there is currently a 50% chance you might have COVID.
Daily cases unexpectedly stopped falling last week (see chart below) which could be explained by increased mingling following children returning to school.
See Malvern Gazette report:
All four nations of the UK have announced a relaxation of 'legal' restrictions, leaving the public to decide what protective measures to take depending on their personal situation and risk assessment. This could either cause daily cases to fall more slowly or even start growing.
The other bit of news is that, because the Omicron variant of COVID is now so widespread, the PHE figure for deaths is being skewed by an increasing number of elderly people who die with COVID rather than from it. We may have to wait a week or two for the Office of National Statistics to report by how much the figure for deaths is skewed.
The chart below compares actual daily cases with last week's projection. The point to note is daily cases have stopped falling, raising the question:
Comparison of actual and last week's projected UK daily cases
The media frenzy over whether the PM broke COVID restriction rules last year reached fever pitch this week with some calling for his resignation, while the report into events by Sue Gray is unlikely to be published before next Wednesday.
The media, while looking in their rear view mirror, appear to have missed an important document from ONS which suggests deaths where COVID has been the primary cause of death in otherwise healthy individuals with no co-morbidities have been only 12% of deaths reported on the Coronavirus Dashboard, while others suggest the average age of death has been 82 years, compared to an average lifespan for men of 79 years.
The implication seems to be that perhaps the impact of COVID-19 has been to some extent exaggerated.
Note: the Freedom of Information request was - please supply deaths caused solely by Covid-19, where Covid is the only cause of death listed on the death certificate, broken down by age group and gender between Feb 2020 up to and including Dec 2021.
A further article:
'Daily COVID Toll skewed as infected die of other causes'
in the digital edition of the Daily Telegraph expands on what might be going on.
Note: sadly you need a subscription to read the online edition.
This all correlates with recent rumours that the present seemingly high daily death rate is being swelled by deaths of the elderly where COVID is either a secondary cause or not a cause at all.
A report into COVID deaths is expected to be published by the ONS towards the end of January.
COVID video updates
The usual charts can be found in the Zoe COVID Study and Independent SAGE weekly updates.
The Independent SAGE update starts with the usual review of the charts and is followed by a discussion of Long COVID.
Some groups have started meeting again in person. Attendance is about 50% of normal with some saying they may wait a week or two before coming back.
Situation remains fluid, refer to current government advice, and prepare contingency plans in case circumstances change in the country you are visiting.
Soon double vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK will not have to take a test.
Travellers visiting the EU may need a booster dose.
List of vaccines
Here is the updated list of COVID-19 vaccines ordered by the UK. It looks as though for now the government has settled on Pfizer as first choice with Moderna second and Astrazeneca held in reserve.
Valneva has been cancelled, and approval has not yet been sought for using Novavax in the EU and US although approval has been sought for use in third world countries.
For two doses plus boosters, only about 200M doses will be needed in 2021 and Jan/Feb 2022 for the population of the UK. The government has now signed deals to buy 114 million additional doses of the Pfizer (54M) and Moderna (60M) vaccines to use in 2022 and 2023.
The press announcement goes on to say that 60M doses of Novavax vaccine are expected to be delivered in 2022 and 7.5M doses of GSK/Sanofi, so there seems no intention to cancel these late arrivals.
Table of vaccines ordered by the UK government
Present rate of new cases
The average rate of infection per 100,000 population per week copied from the Coronavirus Dashboard is shown in the following table.
Seven day Case Rate per 100,000 reported 23rd January 2022
The main point to note is that cases are still high, but have fallen across all nations of the UK.
As a yardstick we suggest a figure of below 10 can be considered LOW, so there is a long way still to go.
How to request a COVID test
In order to protect others it is important to get a test and self isolate if you feel unwell with either classic COVID symptoms, or cold and flu like symptoms which can be caused by the Delta variant.
There are now two types of test you can get. The more accurate PCR test involving a throat and nose swab which is sent to a laboratory for analysis and the Lateral Flow Device test.
Getting a PCR test
Click the link below for information on how to get a free NHS PCR test if you think you may have Coronavirus:
We feel the website discourages people from seeking a PCR test who don't have all the classic symptoms. If you feel strongly enough, press on answering the questions so as to get your PCR test.
In case of difficulty you can try phoning the Coronavirus contact centre by dialing 119.
Alternatively settle for a 'Nasal swab' Lateral Flow Device test in the comfort of your own home (see below).
According to Google there is a 'drive through' COVID testing station at County Hall near the Countrywide Centre, and a 'walk through' at Pershore.
There is also a COVID testing station at the Worcester Royal Hospital for screening patients before admission.
If you cannot get to these you can order a home PCR test kit.
If you test COVID positive you should self-isolate for 10 days.
Getting a Lateral Flow Device test
Lateral Flow Device tests (LFD) can either be booked at Claremont Pharmacy in Barnards Green, Evans Pharmacy in Malvern Link, or taken at home.
The test is intended to screen those who do not show the classic symptoms of COVID-19 and provides a means to check you are 'virus free' at home - either before visiting an elderly person, going to work, or attending a crowded event. It also provides a means to check whether or not you have Coronavirus if you are feeling poorly with cold and flu like symptoms.
You can collect home test kits, for example packaged as the COVID-19 Self-Test (Rapid Antigen Test) in boxes of 7 tests, from Malvern library, the Co-op, and most pharmacies such as Boots and Murrays in Church Street, Claremont House and Lloyds in Barnards Green, Murrays at Prospect View, Evans and Murrays in Malvern Link, and Boots and Morrisons on the Enigma Retail Park.
If collecting from a pharmacy you now have to go on-line and get a collection code to present to the pharmacy in order to obtain a pack of 7 tests. This involves giving NHS Test and Trace your email and/or mobile phone number and address.
The LFD now comes in two versions.
(Lateral Flow Device cassette shown on the right).
ACON Flowflex comes in a blue and white pack.
Orient Gene comes in a green and white pack.
MP Biomedicals come in a blue, white and grey pack.
Leaflet at Boots the Chemist
The new Nasal swab test kit which only requires a nose swab is the easiest to use and the best one to get but it is not yet widely available. On 10th November we found Boots in Church Street and Malvern Library were still supplying the old Throat and Nose kit; Murrays in Church Street had the new kits and Malvern library thought the library in St John's Worcester might have the new kits.
Hint: to see the list, click on 'filter' and then 'pick up sites for test kits' checkbox.
In our opinion, many Seniors will find the classic Throat and Nose Swab home test kit difficult to use as you need to rub the tonsils or thereabouts with the swab-stick without touching the tongue, teeth, cheeks, gums or any other surface before swabbing the nose. Doing this standing in front of a mirror on your own without gagging while holding a torch in the other hand, won't be easy unless you have a steady hand and good eyesight.
The Nose Swab kit is by far the best one for testing yourself at home.
If you test COVID positive you should isolate and take a more accurate PCR test to confirm the result.
NHS Test and Trace want people to report the result of their home LFD tests within 24 hours at:
This helps NHS Test and Trace monitor where the issue of the free LFD tests is proving most effective and the spread of the disease.
However, it's tedious to enter your Lateral Flow Test result on the government website and we imagine many people now don't bother.
Nose swab home test kit obtained from Murrays
About the COVID Symptom Study app (Zoe)
You can help others by downloading the COVID Symptom Study app onto your smart-phone or Ipad and reporting how you feel either daily, or as you are able. Note there is no desktop PC version for Windows.
For further details click this link: https://covid19.joinzoe.com
The Zoe app, which is easy to use, allows you to report whether or not you are feeling well and if you have had a test for COVID. This helps Kings College London monitor the spread and symptoms of the disease and give advice to government. This is an important source of data as we progress through the EXIT wave.
There are questions allowing you to enter your vaccine type and whether any side effects; this now includes boosters and flu jabs.
About the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app (England)
Release of the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app for Apple and Android smartphones was announced on 24th September 2020.
If you have been close to someone who has tested COVID positive, your smart-phone will be pinged and you may be advised to self-isolate
The period for self isolating keeps changing.
You can now take an LFD test from 6 days after the day your symptoms started, or the day your test was taken if you did not have symptoms, and another LFD test at least 24 hours later.
If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation.
Otherwise the isolation period is 10 days.
Bear in mind some individuals may take much longer to fully recover.
Note: be aware triple vaccinated individuals can still catch the Delta variant of the Omicron variant and pass it on to others.
About the NHS app and Covid Pass
An NHS COVID Pass shows your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination details and/or test results. This is your COVID-19 status. You may be asked to show your pass to travel abroad, or at events and venues in England asking for proof of your COVID-19 status.
For large UK events you may get in either by the fact:
You will need the NHS app installed on your smartphone and be registered with the NHS in order to display your vaccination status.
Note: this is not the NHS COVID-19 app
If you don't have a smartphone you should be able to login from a PC to obtain a printed copy.
You can use your NHS login when signing in to report the result of Lateral Flow Device tests taken at home, which must be done within 24 hours.
Summary of Links
Reporting and how to obtain a test
How to get a test
About joining the Zoe COVID Symptom Study:
COVID Alert states
ONS data on deaths in England and Wales (Excel spreadsheet)
A glimpse of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.
A forecast of the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic can be found on a University College London (UCL) website.
A projection of the future COVID-19 death toll and daily deaths can be found on The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website.
The bigger picture
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control info
World Health Organisation info
Window on the USA
Worcestershire County Council COVID-19 information:
Here you will find a useful link,
'Website: Number of new cases by date in Worcestershire'
which displays interesting COVID charts and statistics for Worcestershire
Views of Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health
The interpretations and opinions expressed are our own
Last updated 24th January 2022