The Autumn budget has preoccupied both the media and the politicians. When you take off all the political hype, it does seem that the UK has managed so far in the pandemic in a better economic position than it was first thought. The Chancellor presented a very articulate report on the state of the nation, even managing to make a joke about our Merchant Navy flying red flags again. The opposition party would be pleased to see the red flags even if they were all at sea!
In another context red flags are often a signal of warning or danger. Many people may see some red flags in the way the daily statistics are trending.
In each of the last three days there have been about 200,000 less Covid tests done each day than in previous weeks. We know that many, but by no means all, of the positive tests are found by routine screening and have no symptoms. There were still 43,941 positive tests reported today. The number of tests done has fallen by 4.5% and the number testing positive has fallen by 4% in the last week.
I do not see that this is indicative of reaching the peak of this wave of cases. I think we are still some weeks away from a new peak and the more people who complete their vaccinations the quicker we will get there. I suspect there is some media misrepresentation of the statistics. Remember the saying there are lies, dammed lies and statistics!
I think the drop off in the number of tests being done is in part that the number of regular routine testing at work and at schools has been reduced and of course it is half term.
The last two days have seen daily deaths reported of over 200. There were 263 yesterday and 207 today. It means the weekly number has exceeded 1,000 in the last 7 days.
The numbers in hospital also continue to rise slowly. 8,239 on Monday, 8,693 yesterday and 8,801 today. In parallel with that, the number seriously ill and requiring a ventilator has also risen each day with 889 on Monday, 913 0n Tuesday and 950 on Wednesday. Some of these patients will feature in forthcoming death figures.
I was pleased to see a new figure in the immunisation statistics today. The number of people who have had a 3rd or booster jab is 11.7%. It however does not say how the figure is derived. Is it of the eligible population which would leave out all younger children who are only scheduled for one jab anyhow or does it mean the whole population? Whatever it means it shows we have a long way to go to get to a target of 90% of those eligible.
The other figures for first immunisations are now 49.74 million or 86.6% and for second doses 45.6 million or 79.3%. It is worrying that the gap between the two remains at around 4 million.
The immunisation programme does need a good kick again. The numbers being done have dropped off. I have noticed far fewer cars outside our local centre. If any one reading this has access to daily statistics about the numbers of jabs given per day, please share if possible as it would be interesting to quantify the drop off.
The media persist in questioning why compared to Europe our figures are high. The answer is not simple, but with many cases being asymptomatic, by doing very much more testing than other countries, we are bound to have more positive results. The death rate in the UK remains at about 2 per million cases. In Spain the death rate is 0.5/million, Iceland 1.8/million, Belgium 1.4/million, Denmark 0.32/million, Italy 0.58/million, France 0.46/million and Portugal 0.49/million
When you consider our testing is as much as ten times more than most other countries in Europe and you consider population densities and the different definitions of a Covid death . You will appreciate that the differences between countries are not as the media would want us to believe.
If we were wanting to make our figures more respectable all we need to do is stop testing people without symptoms. We would find a lot less cases, but we are still not counting all cases in the UK, many can slip through undetected. It is our responsibility to report the situation in the UK as accurately and fully as possible.
Remember your best possible protection is 3 jabs when eligible, mask wearing in public spaces gives another 10% protection to the wearer and perhaps 20% extra protection to the person next to you.
Please continues to protect yourself, and those you love, stay kind to others struggling with the effects of the pandemic. Stand up for accuracy, look out for false information and show it a red flag,
Please debate and share information and ideas but above all stay safe.