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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 22nd September 2021

At present the average number of daily deaths from all causes is about 1,400 per day in England and Wales. As autumn and the winter approach the number of daily deaths increases every day. There have only been 166 deaths recorded today from Covid 19. This makes you realise we are not taking any notice of the other deaths each day.

Consider the statistics today in the light of this. The number of tests done have fallen back to below 1 million with 984k yesterday and 895 k today. This probably is due to a reduction in the number of children being tested, rather that demand for tests when a Covid infection is suspected. The number testing positive was 31,567 yesterday and 34,460 today. There is normal day-to-day fluctuation which I think accounts for variation between 30k and 35k. The numbers are not rapidly climbing but remain plateaued.

The number admitted to hospital on a single day is a few days slow to be reported. It has dropped for each of the last 3 days and so there does appear to be a trend developing. It is now 747 on 18th September. The number in hospital beds is also down for each of the last few days. 8.847 on Monday, 7,731 yesterday and 7,567 today. I am optimistic this trend of less admissions may continue. The number of ventilators being used has also fallen to below 1000 again. 943 were requiring a ventilator on 21st September.

I hope in a week or so we shall see the death figures fall again steadily but there has been a drop from 203 yesterday to 166 today. the death rate remains at 1.3 per 100k. There is only a 0.1% rise in the last 7 days. Immunisations continue. These figures do not yet include the under 16s or booster 3rd doses. 48.64 million first doses have been done or 89.5%. We need 10% more please to be done. Come on you sceptics. With second doses we are at 44.55million or 82%.

Whenever you consider numbers in statistics you have to know the size of the pool to see which country is doing well or badly. The total population is assessed (guess estimate) of 60 million in the UK. For the USA it is 332 million and for Western Europe 192 million. So the USA has over 5 times the number of people in the UK and Europe over 3 times more.

Here are some other figures to help you further understand the figures and how to interpret them;

In the UK in August there was 9.9% more deaths than the average number recorded in previous August's before the pandemic. This means undertakers were 10% busier than normal.

Several of you have asked about other deaths. So here is a selection of facts. The Office for National Statistics studied all the years between 2001 and 2018. Overall, the leading cause of death in everyone was Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The average was 12.7% of the total. However, in 2018 the percentage with dementia rose to 16.5%. This rise is down to life expectancy increasing and this is a very common condition in advancing years.

The leading cause of death in women before 2008 was breast cancer. Since 2008 it has been pushed into second place by cancers of the lungs which now top the list. You can account for this by better early intervention in breast cancers resulting in cures. Routine breast screening saves many lives. Lung cancer is often late being diagnosed and the survival rate after surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy remains quite poor compared to breast cancer.

If we look at young people in the 20-34 age group, Suicide and poisoning top the list for both sexes. 27.1% of males and 16.7% of females. We know that attempted suicide or suicidal gestures are much more common in females, but if men decide to do it, they are usually much more successful.

Influenza causes on average about 17,000 deaths a year in England but depending on the prevalence of the disease it can be several times higher in a bad year. The prevalence is low this year so far and the last few years. This means statistically we could have a bad year. This would be very hard to cope with on top of Covid. So please all get a flu jab and a Covid booster if appropriate.

Covid was the leading cause of death in each month from November 2020 until February 2021. In March it dropped to 3rd place, down to 9th place in April May and June rising again to 3rd place from August till the present. Today top of the list comes dementia followed by ischaemic heart disease and then Covid.

A further study recently has promoted the use of monoclonal antibodies in patients with mild to moderate covid symptoms who were at high risk. The study claimed to show a 70% reduction in the number going on to need hospital admission. The treatment id by intravenous infusion so it needs to be done over a period of some hours at a medical facility. In the USA stocks are low because just 7 States have used over 70% of the federal supply. The US Government is resourcing millions more doses.

In summary we need to look after ourselves to reduce risks whenever possible. This means ensuring obesity, hypertension and diabetes are minimised and we have all routine checks on offer. Breast Screen, Ovary screening, BP checks,etc are all as important if not more important than wearing your mask. The NHS is still open for business and routine screening continues. Please do not put it off because of Covid.

The worst case scenario is a surge in Covid due to a new resistant strain of Covid plus a flu epidemic, together with a large number of patients who left screening too long, all coming together around Christmas. Every expert is warning us we are in for a tough winter. Act now to minimise its impact on you and your loved ones. Let me have your thoughts and ideas as always.

You Know what to do. Go and get things done and stay safe.

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