COVID Data update

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Here’s my latest update to help those of you following the situation with the pandemic in order to informing planning and risk assessment for church.

The first chart shows the number of cases reported daily and an average based on a rolling seven days of data.

You will see that the current trend looks very much like cases are flatlining a little. Over the last few days we have been seeing a small increase each day as the % changes chart shows.

So I think the next few weeks are going to be a little uncertain. We could see cases continue to flatline or even increase as we continue to see the effect of re-opening on transmission. The football season kicks off this weekend and that may have some affec ton transmission. We also don’t know how the changes to track and trace reducing the requirement to self-isolate which kick in on the 16th August will affect things.

You’ll remember that I plotted out two scenarios -best case and worst case – a little while back. Current real data remains in line with both possibilities (you should be able to just about make out the blue line).

I remain optimistic that even if we see a renewed increase in cases that the peak will be well below my worst case scenario. This is based on Stephen Streater’s work.

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Streater’s modelling suggests that vaccinations (and naturally acquired immunity) produces a barrier to high case growth with the barrier reducing over time. We saw this during the Euros with the peak in case growth being limited so that the second spike from the semi-finals and finals was lower than that caused by the group phases through to Quarter Finals.

The next chart shows that average hospital admissions have decreased although, again we saw an uptick towards the end of the week.

The latest English hospital data was slighter higher than the equivalent for the previous week and that will feed into UK wide data reported early next week. This may be a bit of a blip but also something we need to keep an eye on. There are a couple of things we might want to watch out for. First of all, the % ratio of admissions against cases with 10 day lag had dropped below 2% for a few days before bouncing upwards again. It may be that the benefit we are seeing from the vaccines is beginning to bottom out and we may see an increase in the ratio.

However another possibility arises when we look at this chart which plots predicted hospital cases based on a 2% ratio with 10 day lag.

You will notice that the predicted and actual lines are actually following similar trends, however they seem to be a couple of days out of sync. It is therefore possible that what we are seeing is a change in the lag-time. This would not be surprising. When cases were low we may have seen people on medical advice seeking hospital admission early after catching COVID as a precautionary measure. The result would also be that people would be admitted with milder symptoms. However with cases higher through June and July and therefore hospitals under pressure I suspect there was a greater reluctance to refer and so the lag time between diagnosis and admission would increase. If so, then this will no doubt change again as and when the number of cases come down.

Our last chart shows the number of deaths reported by day (within 28 days of a COVID diagnosis). As you can see these are continuing to increase. This is not a surprise as “deaths” is the final lag measure. I suspect that we might expect reported deaths to increase to a high of about 180 on average over the next week before then reducing to on average about 70 deaths daily later in the month.

You will appreciate that from a risk management perspective the data continues to leave us with a level of uncertainty and we need to keep factoring that in when considering the mood of our congregations. We are still learning to see whether it is possible to live with COVID and enjoy a level of normality. If by the end of September we see that cases did not hit stratospheric levels (think the prediction of 200k cases daily) and the Health Service has coped then that will give people a certain amount of confidence that normal life may resume.