Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
1st August 2021
DAILY CASES HIGH BUT FALLING
Take care as virus still widespread
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.
This page is normally updated every Sunday between 1800 and 2400 hours GMT.
Information about Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website:
How to get vaccinated
The most important thing people can do now is get vaccinated. Most Seniors should have been double jabbed by now, but if not get your vaccine, and encourage others to get theirs.
During July vaccinations could be obtained at the Three Counties Show Ground without an appointment.
Monday to Friday 8.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday 8.00am to 1.30pm
(AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccinations available)
Use Brown Gate entrance, postcode WR13 6NW
Check Worcestershire website for availability in August.
How to request a COVID test
In order to protect others it is important to book a test and self isolate if you feel unwell with COVID symptoms.
There are now two types of test you can get. The 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:
In case of difficulty you can try phoning the Coronavirus contact centre by dialing 119.
There is a 'walk through' COVID testing station at County Hall next to the Countrywide Centre; one has been set up at the Worcester Arena car park on the University of Worcester site in Hylton Road to serve the residents of St Johns; and there is also a drive through pod at the Worcester Royal Hospital.
The nearest COVID testing station is on the upper level of the car park below Great Malvern library on the corner of Victoria Road and Como Road.
These are not drop-ins and you will need to book - but there is said to be good availability and you should get the result back in about 24 hours.
If you test COVID positive you must self isolate for 10 days.
Getting a Lateral Flow Device test
Lateral Flow tests can now be taken at Great Malvern Library, Evans Pharmacy in Malvern Link, and Claremont Pharmacy in Barnards Green. This test is intended to screen those who show no symptoms and can either be pre-booked on-line or you may be able to walk-in at the library.
You can also collect home test kits, packaged as the COVID-19 Self-Test (Rapid Antigen Test) in boxes of 7 tests, from the library 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. (Lateral Flow Device or as we call it the 'pregnancy tester' shown on the right).
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 home test kit very 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. 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.
If you test COVID positive you should take a more accurate PCR test to confirm the result, as false positives can occur.
In any event you should report the result at:
Home test kit obtained from Prospect View
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.
If you have had a jab there are questions allowing you to enter the vaccine type and any side effects. If you do not see these questions you may need to update the app.
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.
The app provides a means for tracing people who have unknowingly been near someone who has tested COVID positive.
Note: now that the majority of adults have been vaccinated, the benefits of the app are being questioned. From 16th August fully vaccinated individuals won't need to self isolate if they are pinged by the App, unless they test COVID positive.
Bear in mind it is thought one in five vaccinated individuals can still catch COVID and pass it to others.
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 may be able to login from a PC to obtain a printed copy.
Some months ago Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, said the government had no intention of introducing vaccine passports. Now it seems the PM thinks it's a jolly good idea calling it the NHS Covid Pass; however that may be a ploy to encourage vaccine take-up by those aged under 30 years.
You can also use your NHS login when signing in to report the result of Lateral Flow Device tests taken at home.
1st August 2021
Many people have been concerned about the government lifting COVID restrictions on 19th July but the Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Witty and commentator Dr Chris Smith agree it is probably better to lift restrictions during the school summer holidays than wait until the winter when people spend more time indoors.
On the 18th June we attempted to paint a picture of how the numbers might change during the next 6 weeks; it was a gloomy projection.
Since then, and contrary to expectations, the daily number of COVID cases reported by the PHE has fallen quite sharply and nobody knows why. We will have to wait another couple of weeks and take account of other indicators such as the ONS COVID infection surveys and feedback from the Zoe app to be sure how the level of infection is changing. If the PHE numbers are to be believed and cases are truly falling we should see hospital admissions fall to about 700 COVID patients per day by the end of next week and the COVID death rate fall towards 60 deaths per day the week after that, which would be good news.
The ONS has just reported COVID antibodies in 92% of adults either due to vaccination or from previous infection.
That, taken with mask wearing and social distancing, should be enough to bring the Effective Reproduction Rate in adults below one, so that COVID shrinks exponentially to a very low level. That is what we wonder may have begun to happen during the last fortnight.
However the scales are probably finely balanced. The government has wrongly, in our opinion, not vaccinated 12 to 18 year olds and in consequence as young people take advantage of the lifting of restrictions the scales may tip the other way causing daily cases to flat-line and then start rising again during August leading to a further wave or 'ripple' of infection. We can only wait and observe which way the scales tip and by how much.
Meanwhile life for Seniors remains very much back to normal in the rural Malvern Hills; like us you may feel 'fireproof' after being fully vaccinated.
But don't be surprised if you or some of your friends become poorly. There are no exact figues but hearsay is that one in five fully vaccinated individuals may catch COVID, but thankfully most should not need treatment in hospital.
To avoid infection, it is recommended that you continue following coronavirus advice such as regular handwashing, wearing a face covering where recommended, and continuing with physical distancing as cases are still high in Worcestershire. Click to view our advice.
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.
You can see the percentage of people vaccinated by age group on the Worcestershire COVID-19 Vaccinations Dashboard.
Adults aged 18+ can now book a jab on-line without having to wait for a call from their GP surgery.
Note: there is a mass vaccination centre at The Three Counties Showground where in July first vaccinations could be obtained without having to make an appointment.
Alternatively contact your GP surgery.
Extension of vaccination to children aged 12+ could follow but it seems vaccination will be restricted to the most vulnerable children and those living with vulnerable adults.
Two jabs are necessary to protect against the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The bar chart below shows the population of the UK by age band (1), and the number of first (2) and second jabs (3) given, so that you can see overall progress of the vaccination programme in the UK.
Vaccinometer as of 1st August 2021
You will see the blue bars are hardly moving now because the vaccination rate has slowed considerably in recent weeks leaving only younger age groups and the vaccine hesitant to be jabbed.
Total first jabs are reported 46,851,145 to the 1st August. Second jabs are reported 38,345,841.
In comparison the adult population of the UK aged 18+ is 54,000,000 and if children are included the total is about 66,000,000 so there is some way to go before the whole country is fully vaccinated.
The bulk of the vaccination programme has been completed, in so far as most people aged over 18 years have been offered a first dose. However the take-up by those aged under 30 years is poor and some older individuals remain hesitant so full vaccination can never be achieved. Mass vaccination centres may soon close as they are now fairly empty and many people are not attending booked slots.
The government has begun to offer incentives to encourage more young peope to take the vaccine, but the proposal to make vaccination compulsory for university students seems to have been dropped. Pregnant mothers are now actively encouraged to take the vaccine while the older 'vaccine hesitant' are likely set in their ways and perhaps little more can be done to get them jabbed.
The new target is to offer all those aged 18+ a second jab by mid September.
Vaccination statistics can be found on the Vaccination tab of the Coronavirus Dashboard.
A glimpse of the worldwide vaccination situation can be found on the Our World in Data website.
There are many charts which some may find confusing, but look for the chart showing share of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-vaccine.
Hint: click TABLE tab to see more countries.
Vaccination numbers in the EU are creeping up. The share of people who have received at least one dose reported 31st July are Germany 61%, Belgium 69%, Spain 68%, Italy 63% and France 62%. In comparison 69% of the UK population (including children) has received at least one dose.
New Zealand 22%, Australia 32%, India 26%, Russia 25% and Japan 38% are still lagging behind, whilst in Africa few have been vaccinated.
Number of cases
During the last fortnight the average rate of people testing COVID positive in the UK reported by PHE on the 'Coronavirus Dashboard' fell from 45,242 new cases per day to 26,793. The chart below shows broadly how the daily rate has varied since 1st September.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 1st August 2021
The next chart shows in more detail how daily cases have varied between 1st June and the 1st August.
UK daily new confirmed COVID cases 1st June to 1st August 2021
Cases have fallen quite rapidly during the last fortnight but show signs of approaching a plateau next week.
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE rose by 182,755 to 5,880,667.
In Worcestershire there have now been 44,275 confirmed cases of COVID-19 an increase of 1,476 on last week. During the last fortnight the number of daily cases has fallen from 434 to 211 indicating the Effective COVID Reproduction Rate has fallen below one.
The next chart shows how daily cases have varied in Worcestershire since 1st June 2021 roughly following the national picture.
Daily cases in Worcestershire from 1st June to 1st August 2021
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 1st August 2021
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.
At the bottom of the Coronavirus Dashboard (daily update) page there is an Interactive Map which is coloured to show the variation in infection rate across the country. This week the map shows infection rates falling across most of the UK, except Northern Ireland.
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 27th July are: North Malvern 10; Malvern Link 5; Pickersleigh 16; Barnards Green 6; Malvern Wells and Priory 12; Callow End and Hanley 5; Upton and Welland 10.
Rates are half what they were the week before.
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 has risen by 561 in the last week to 129,719 while the daily average has increased from 40 to 80 deaths per day during the last fortnight.
COVID-19 death rate 1st May to 1st August 2021
On average during the last fortnight the daily rate has been increasing by about two per day.
In comparison averaged over recent years 1,700 people die daily from all causes.
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 16th July 2021 (week 28 of 2021) is shown below.
Note: the numbers are from the ONS Death Registrations-Pivot table
Provisional cumulative COVID-19 deaths registered by ONS to 16th July 2021
In week 28 just one COVID death was reported in hospital in the district of Bromsgrove. In England and Wales 217 COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the week to 16th July; 38 more than the week before. Of these 22 were in a care home, 21 at home, 5 in a hospice,166 in hospital and 3 elsewhere.
In week 27 COVID deaths in England and Wales had been 70 higher than the week before, confirming the upward trend in deaths reported by PHE.
Note: summation of rows 9 to 339 of the ONS deaths Registrations-Pivot table.
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
The table below shows latest COVID deaths in Worcestershire hospitals reported by NHS England to 30th July.
The COVID death rate in Worcestershire remains very low.
Risk of COVID-19 death by age band
NHS England provides an analysis of COVID-19 deaths in hospital in England and Wales by age band. Shown below is a breakdown of recent deaths for the period 1st June 2021 to 8th July 2021 when the death rate averaged 10 deaths per day.
Risk of COVID-19 death by age band
Those aged 60+ years still account for 76% of deaths compared to 92% last year, but remember the death rate as a proportion of new cases is about ten times lower than in 2020.
Most fatalities are said to have been vulnerable people with an unhealthy lifestyle, and the obese.
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.
Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 1st August 2021
The number of patients in hospital has flat-lined this week, when we thought it might have risen to 10,000 corresponding to the peak of 47,000 new daily cases ten days ago. The number of patients admitted daily has also flat-lined at the 900 mark.
The number of patients on ventilators seems rather high, bearing in mind the media reports that, in this wave, 'few' patients were being ventilated.
There are currently no signs of extreme pressure being put on hospitals.
Worcestershire hospital beds
Tabulated figures for bed occupancy in Worcestershire Acute and Care hospitals can be found on the NHS England website.
An easy to read summary can be found on the Worcestershire Coronavirus Dashboard.
There are now 44 COVID-19 patients occupying Worcestershire Acute Hospital beds, of which 1 is a ventilated bed; roughly 16% of the peak experienced last January.
Note: it's possible as hospitals fill in Birmingham, where there are many more cases, part of the overflow could be sent to acute hospitals in Worcestershire.
Forecast for the week ahead
Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 8th August) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by 190,000 towards 6,071,000.
In Worcestershire about 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and about 120 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths will increase by about 560 nationally towards 130,300 during the 7 days ending 8th August 2021.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 0.2% death rate, the 1,476 new cases this week should translate to no more than 3 COVID deaths per week in the first half of August.
Longer term forecast
The sharp fall in daily cases during the last fortnight was not predicted by SPI-M modelling and Prof Tim Spector (of the Zoe app) wonders whether the PHE figures can be believed, while others may be wondering about the value of the computer models!
We speculate that due to vaccination and immunity arising from past infections a tipping point may have been reached where public behaviour strongly influences whether daily cases go up or down.
The elderly are likely to remain cautious so for them cases should go down; while those aged under 30, many of whom are not vaccinated, are likely to throw caution to the winds and for those cases will go up.
In consequence daily cases could stop falling next week and then possibly start climbing, but to what degree is anybody's guess.
If the fall in daily cases reported by PHE reflects reality, and is not a statistical blip, hospital admissions should start falling next week, while deaths could peak at about 80 deaths per day and then start falling the week after. Beyond that were daily cases to start rising again hospital admissions and deaths would follow in proportion.
Providing UK hospital beds occupied by COVID patients don't show signs of rising much above 10,000 the government is unlikely to reimpose restrictions.
Scientists say it is impossible to predict when the EXIT wave will peak and that will probably not be known for sure until two or three weeks after the peak is past. While it looks as though the EXIT wave may have passed it's peak, it's too early to rule out further surges in daily cases possibly leading to a bumpy tail to the epidemic.
We'll just have to wait and see how things pan out during August and adjust our behaviour accordingly.
Advice for Seniors
Currently there is no more than one death per week from COVID in Worcestershire so we therefore judge the risk of death for fully vaccinated Seniors to be LOW while the risk of Long COVID might be MODERATE; see our annex and riskometer opposite.
Remember, if you are elderly, have not been vaccinated, and were to catch COVID there is a significant chance that you will either die or your long term health may be seriously damaged, so if you are able get both doses of your vaccine and continue to take care of yourself and those you love. Also encourage others to be vaccinated.
Click for our risk of death table (for those who have not been vaccinated)
Like Sajid Javid, it is quite possible, despite a second jab, for Seniors to become ill with COVID-19; some might have mild symptoms like a common cold or hay fever, while others could feel very poorly, but few except the frail and vulnerable will need to be admitted to hospital.
Until this summer's crisis is over 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 hand gel.
2) Two metres is further than you think - roughly an arm and a walking stick away.
Annex to 1st August update
On Monday 19th July the PM held a press briefing confirming the lifting of legal restrictions. He struck a more cautious tone than the previous week emphasising that we must continue to be cautious to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID patients in August.
Scientists expected COVID cases to spiral after the lifting of restrictions but two days later the daily cases reported by PHE began falling.
On Friday the 23rd July the Independant SAGE briefing discussed Long COVID. Long COVID was defined as symptoms that persisted for up to 12 weeks, whereas symptoms persisting for more than 12 weeks were referred to as Post COVID Syndrome.
To date there are no predictors such as severity of illness indicating who is likely to suffer from Long COVID.
The symptoms of Long COVID were said to be:
On Friday 30th July the ONS COVID infection survey reported that up to 24th July cases were increasing, while Prof Tim Spector reported cases were flat-lining in his weekly Zoe COVID Study update thus casting doubt on the figures reported by PHE.
If daily cases are truly falling we should see hospital admissions and the death rate begin to fall in the next week or two.
It may be another two weeks before direction of travel is confirmed.
The weekly Independent SAGE briefing is worth looking at if you are interested in charts and how the numbers have been changing:-
The other issue raised this week has been the high number of people pinged by the NHS COVID app and asked to self isolate.
As far as we know the 'ping' is advisory and there is no legal requirement to self isolate, the government has a scheme for fully vaccinated critical workers to test daily instead of self isolating, and after 16th August there will be no requirement for fully vaccinated individuals to self isolate unless they test COVID positive, so this issue should soon go away.
The government is planning for fully vaccinated individuals from the US and most EU countries to enter the UK without having to quarantine.
It is now possible to get an NHS Vaccination Pass for overseas travel, which will require you to prove your identity for example by providing a photo of your passport; this should facilitate return to the UK from Amber list countries, except France.
List of vaccines
Here is the list of vaccines ordered by the UK - a shortage of vaccine had been limiting the vaccination rate in the UK earlier in the year, but possibly not now. Plenty of vaccine is on order for delivery later in 2021 some of which may be needed for booster jabs and vaccinating those aged 12 - 18 years.
Table of vaccines ordered by the UK government
Present rate of new cases and risk
The average rate of infection per 100,000 population per week in England has fallen from 399 a fortnight ago to 305 while in comparison the figure for Worcestershire is now 273 and the Malvern Hills 169.
As a yardstick we suggest a figure of below 10 can be considered LOW.
There is still a fair chance of catching COVID-19 within the Malvern Hills but as most Seniors and the middle-aged have been vaccinated with 2 jabs we judge the risk of death LOW. While few will now die of COVID a greater number will suffer from Long COVID so that risk might be assessed MODERATE. A member of the family has had Long COVID and it is very debilitating.
The risk of death from Coronavirus for unvaccinated children and healthy teenagers is said to be small so for them the risk is LOW. There is however emerging concern that one in six youngsters might suffer from Long COVID.
About the final UK COVID-19 death toll
At the start of the epidemic on 17th March 2020 the Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Valance, questioned by the Health Select Committee, did not disagree with Jeremy Hunt's suggestion that a death toll of 20,000 might be a reasonable outcome.
On the other hand, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College warned in some scenarios the death toll might be as high as 250,000; while we thought, in the very worst case assuming up to 1% of the UK population died the outcome might have been nearer 400,000 taking into account some build up of herd immunity.
So how well will the UK have done? When Jeremy Hunt and Sir Patrick Valance spoke there had been few deaths and they clearly underestimated what was to come. Professor Neil Ferguson was nearer the mark. A few might consider an outcome of about 130,000 deaths a fair result compared to a greater number of people dying in a very short space of time, more being permanently disabled by Long COVID, temporary collapse of the NHS and patients dying at home or queued in ambulances outside hospitals. You have only to look at the recent situation in India to imagine what could have happened.
Members of the Labour Party and others will no doubt say the UK has done poorly compared to the best performing countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore where deaths have been much lower, not to mention the enormous expense of supporting those out of work and huge damage to the economy.
With hindsight, deaths might have been much lower if the second lockdown had been continued into December and January, but that would have meant cancelling Christmas, and who knows to what extent the public would have complied.
Worldwide, this pandemic is not played out and it could be a further 1 to 2 years before the 'dust' finally settles. The PM has promised an independent inquiry in Spring 2022 to learn lessons for the future.
Summary of Links
Reporting and how to obtain a test
How to get a test
About joining the Zoe COVID Symptom Study:
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 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 3rd August 2021