Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic weekly update for Malvern Seniors
15th August 2021
DAILY CASES FLAT-LINING
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 August vaccinations can 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
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 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 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.
If you have been close to someone who has tested COVID positive, your smart-phone will be pinged and you will be advised to self-isolate
From 16th August fully vaccinated individuals won't need to self-isolate. However if you are feeling poorly and get pinged it is recommended you take a COVID test, and self-isolate if the result is positive.
Bear in mind fully vaccinated individuals can still catch COVID and pass it on 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; it's an option still being considered by HMG and other governments.
You can use your NHS login when signing in to report the result of Lateral Flow Device tests taken at home.
15th August 2021
During the last week, the UK rolling average of daily new cases has hovered around 28,500 cases per day, which is a lot, especially remembering that a year ago during the first lockdown, and before vaccination, cases had fallen to 800 new cases per day.
Hospital admissions which have been flat-lining at about 740 COVID new patients per day show signs of rising next week, while the death rate which had reached a plateau of 90 COVID deaths per day should begin to fall.
The Effective Reproduction Rate of the virus is thought to be hovering close to one so that small changes in behaviour can cause daily cases either to tip up or down slightly.
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 too surprised if you or some of your friends become poorly. Fully vaccinated individuals can catch COVID and pass it on to others, but thankfully most should not need treatment in hospital.
To avoid infection, it is recommended that you continue following coronavirus advice such as regular hand-washing, 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 book a jab on-line without having to wait for a call from their GP surgery and very soon those aged 16 and 17 years will be able to get a first jab without the need for parental consent.
Note: there is a mass vaccination centre at The Three Counties Showground where first vaccinations can be obtained during August without having to make an appointment.
Alternatively contact your GP surgery.
Extension of vaccination to all children aged 12+ may follow but for now vaccination will be restricted to the most vulnerable children and those living with vulnerable adults.
Two jabs are essential 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 15th August 2021
You will see the blue bars are moving slowly now because only younger age groups and the vaccine hesitant remain to be jabbed.
Total first jabs are reported 47,302,445 to the 15th August. Second jabs are reported 40,557,198.
The adult population of the UK aged 15+ is about 55,000,000 and if children are included the total is 66,000,000 so there is some way to go before the country is fully vaccinated.
The bulk of the first phase 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 only about 70% and some older individuals remain hesitant so full vaccination can never be achieved.
The government and universities have begun to offer incentives to encourage more young people to take the vaccine, but the proposal to make vaccination compulsory for university students has 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 next target is to offer all those aged 18+ a second jab by mid September,
All 16 and 17 year olds are to be offered a first jab or the chance to book one by 23rd August 2021.
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 now similar to those in the UK. The share of people who have received at least one dose reported 14th August are Germany 62%, Belgium 71%, Spain 74%, Italy 67% and France 68%. In comparison 69% of the UK population (including children) has received at least one dose.
New Zealand 30%, Australia 35%, India 30%, Russia 28%, Japan 49% and Malaysia 52% are some way behind, whilst in Africa few have been vaccinated.
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' has risen slightly from 27,288 to 28,618 cases per day.
The ZOE COVID Study on the other hand estimates about 42,000 cases per day.
The chart below shows broadly how the daily rate reported by PHE has varied since 1st September.
UK daily confirmed COVID cases 1st September to 15th August 2021
The next chart shows in more detail how daily cases have flat-lined in recent days.
UK daily new confirmed COVID cases 1st July to 15th August 2021
During the last week the cumulative total of confirmed UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE rose by 198,075 to 6,267,437.
In Worcestershire there have now been 47,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 an increase of 1,526 on last week. During the last week the number of daily cases has risen only slightly from 204 to 218 cases per day suggesting the Effective COVID Reproduction Rate is not far from one.
The next chart shows how daily cases have varied in Worcestershire in recent days roughly following the national picture.
Daily cases in Worcestershire from 1st July to 15th 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 15th August 2021
The increase is similar to last week, except for the Malvern Hills which has seen a significant rise.
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.
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 that infection rates are low across most of Scotland and parts of Wales; still high across much of England; and very high in 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 10th August are: North Malvern 22; Malvern Link 14; Pickersleigh 6; Barnards Green 6; Malvern Wells and Priory 8; Callow End and Hanley 8; Upton and Welland 12.
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 633 in the last week to 130,953 while the daily average has flat-lined at about 90 deaths per day.
COVID-19 death rate 1st May to 15th August 2021
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 30th July 2021 (week 30 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 30th July 2021
In week 30 just one COVID related death was reported in hospital in Wychavon.
In England and Wales 402 COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the week to 30th July; 78 more than the week before, confirming the upward trend in deaths reported by PHE. Of these 38 were in a care home, 35 at home, 4 in a hospice, and 324 in hospital.
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 13th August 2021.
Risk of COVID-19 death by age band (updated)
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 June 2021 to 15th August 2021 over which the death rate rose to 90 deaths per day.
Risk of COVID-19 death by age band
Those aged 60+ years now account for 82% of deaths compared to 92% last year, but remember that due to vaccination the death rate as a proportion of new cases is some ten times lower than in 2020.
The infection rate in England is currently about 300 in 100,000 per week so even if this continued all year the chance of catching COVID would be no more than 1 in 7.
The probability of dying of COVID is about 1 in 500 of those that test COVID positive and as most deaths are amongst the elderly the chance of Seniors dying of COVID must be about 1 in 1,000 of those infected, and the probability of dying of COVID in any one year no more than say 1 in 10,000.
These odds are unlikely to worry fully vaccinated healthy Seniors wanting to make the most of their remaining years.
There are few COVID deaths in the Malvern Hills now thanks to the vaccination programme, but prior to this there were 144 deaths. Malvern nurse Julie Ann Omar had been one of the first victims of the Coronavirus epidemic. She sadly died self-isolating at home on the 20th April 2020 aged 52 years, after working at the Alexandra hospital in Redditch.
The UK government Coronavirus Dashboard includes important information about healthcare statistics.
Headline summary of patients in hospital as reported 15th August 2021
The daily number of patients admitted to hospital has risen in the last few days. This is slightly puzzling as the number might have been expected to fall in proportion to the drop in daily cases.
One explanation could be that fewer people with COVID are now coming forward to be tested; another could be the recent peak in cases was fuelled by young people few of whom went into hospital.
From observing recent peaks it looks as though very roughly:-
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 39 COVID-19 patients occupying Worcestershire Acute Hospital beds, of which 4 are ventilated beds; roughly 14% of the peak experienced last January.
Between 2nd and 8th August 2021, 36 patients were admitted to hospital with coronavirus in Worcestershire implying that the average length of stay in the county could be just one week (see link below).
Forecast for the week ahead
Trends suggest that during the next seven days (up to 22nd August) the cumulative total of new UK COVID-19 cases reported by PHE on the Coronavirus Dashboard could increase by 200,000 towards 6,468,000.
In Worcestershire about 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 can be expected, and about 150 cases in the Malvern Hills district.
We estimate the number of COVID (28) deaths will increase by about 500 nationally towards 131,500 during the 7 days ending 22nd August 2021.
In the county of Worcestershire, assuming a 0.2% death rate, the 1,526 new cases this week should translate to no more than 3 COVID deaths per week towards the end of August.
Longer term forecast
During the last week daily cases have increased only slowly and we speculate that due to vaccination and immunity arising from past infections a tipping point has been reached where public behaviour strongly influences whether, in any week, the 7 day average of daily cases goes up or down.
The fully vaccinated elderly are likely to remain cautious so for them cases will probably go down; while many of those aged under 30, of whom a third are unvaccinated, are likely to throw caution to the winds and for those cases may go up.
In consequence daily cases could oscillate about the present level during coming weeks, but to what extent and for how long is impossible to predict.
If the PHE daily cases can be believed, the death rate should start falling slowly towards 55 deaths per day during the remainder of August tracking the recent fall from 47,000 to 27,000 new cases per day. Alternatively if the ZOE estimates are right the death rate won't fall below 80 deaths per day. These are deaths which are already 'baked-in'.
Daily cases will probably rise after students go back to schools/universities in the autumn, and then could 'surge' as more time is spent indoors during the winter with hospital admissions and deaths following in proportion. Providing UK hospital beds occupied by COVID patients don't rise above 10,000 the government is unlikely to re-impose 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. Cases are still very high and it's too early to rule out further 'bumps in the road' for example during November.
We'll just have to wait and see how things pan out during the remainder of this year and adjust our behaviour accordingly.
The scenario could change were a new variant of COVID-19 to enter the UK which escapes the present vaccines.
Advice for Seniors
Currently there are no more than four COVID related deaths per week 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 daily cases fall markedly 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 15th August update
There is little to report this week as people are on holiday and other issues such as the situation in Afghanistan are hitting the headlines.
The media reported on Sir Andrew Pollard talking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus an informal grouping of MPs which aims to ensure that lessons are learned from the UK’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Daily Mail reported Andrew Pollard saying for example,
Other weekly updates
Prof Tim Spector is on holiday so the Zoe COVID Study 13th August weekly update was given by Zoe CEO Jonathan Wolf.
A survey suggests those who are pinged by the NHS COVID app and feel unwell are quite likely to have COVID.
As usual the Independent SAGE weekly briefing covers how the numbers have been changing:-
Overseas travel (no change)
It is getting easier to travel overseas but we have given up reading UK government overseas travel advice which seems to vary day to day.
Clearly all governments are working towards facilitating travel for fully vaccinated individuals but it could be many months before things return to near normal.
For example, while fully vaccinated individuals from the US and most EU countries can now enter the UK without having to quarantine, you will have to quarantine in an expensive government hotel if you return from Mexico, and it is doubtful you will be let into Singapore or NZ.
It's possible to get an NHS Vaccination Pass for overseas travel, which requires you to prove your identity for example by providing a photo of your passport; this may facilitate return to the UK from Amber list countries.
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 risen to 306 while in comparison the figure for Worcestershire is now 261 and the Malvern Hills 177.
As a yardstick we suggest a figure of below 10 can be considered LOW.
The probability of fully vaccinated Seniors catching and dying from COVID-19 is now probably less than 1 in 10,000 per year so we judge the risk LOW. A greater number may suffer from Long COVID so that risk might be assessed MODERATE. A member of the family, now recovered, had Long COVID and it was 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 has been concern about youngsters suffering from Long COVID but a recent report by King's College London suggests this is not a major issue. To quote:
Nevertheless some children may be poorly for several weeks which could have a significant impact on schooling and their parent's availability for work.
About the UK COVID-19 final death toll
The UK is going to have to live with COVID-19 and a background level of infection which could increase every winter as more time is spent indoors. Barring new variants, this may result in many thousands of COVID deaths per year, as with flu. So in that respect there can be no 'final' death toll.
The present 2020/2021 death toll will likely climb from 131,000 towards 140,000 by Christmas 2021 based on the PHE definition of deaths. If ONS figures are used the UK toll could be heading towards 200,000.
Worldwide, this pandemic is not played out and it could be a further 2 to 3 years before the 'dust' finally settles and third world countries are vaccinated. The PM has promised an independent inquiry in Spring 2022 to learn lessons for the future.
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 nearest the mark. A few might consider an outcome of about 140,000 deaths during 2020 and 2021 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 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.
A member of the marketing team at US company 'My Bio Source' sent us a link to a History of Pandemics. Let's hope our brilliant scientists can continue to protect us from future threats.
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 18th August 2021