Public Health England’s week 48 (up to week 47) report on “flu-like” respiratory infections reveals:

“Cases”

Positive Covid tests (still reported shamelessly as “cases”) maxed out around week 44 at 10% of those tested, falling to around 8% in week 47.

Confirmed lab test cases of flu are still struggling to approach 1%.

Confirmed other virus lab tests (mostly rhinovirus) peaked at around 24% in wk 39, falling to 15% in week 47.

(I assume that the non-covid tests are not applied unless someone has presented sick to the NHS, thus probably these tests do represent real cases)

Google Searches

ILI (influenza-like) search rates per 100K population have been flat-lining at around 2 daily – well below last year, and unlike then showing no upward trajectory.

NHS 111 “Potential Covid-19” Calls

These have been flat-lining (actually slowly declining) since mid-September.

NHS 111 On-Line “Potential Covid-19” Assessments

These show a small peak in early September and have declined since then.

GP In Hours “Potential Covid-19”

Small peak in September, minor trough late October, then rising through September levels, now around 20 per 100K population

GP Out of Hours 

Unscheduled care consultations for acute respiratory infections and influenza-like illness and difficulty breathing/asthma/wheeze remained stable” showing steady decrease since early September and tracking below baseline. 

ED (A&E to you and me) “Potental Covid-19” Attendances

Rose from 100 attendances in early October to 240, dropping to 200 in late November. (NB: total events rather than events per 100K population)

Attendances for non-covid respiratory infections tracked below baseline by markedly similar numbers.

None of the above situations indicate to me any ongoing cause for concern.

 

“Covid” Hospital Admissions

Covid” admissions rose from 2 per 100K at start of October to 16.88 per 100K in week 46, dropping to 15.5 in week 47 – too early to attach significance to this. 

By Age group: 85+ 58% (all per cents are estimates from the graph)
75-84 27%
65-74 11%
  0-64 4% 

(Flu admissions tracking as close to zero as may be since week 40.)

“Covid” ICU/HDU Admissions

Covid” admissions rose from 1 per million at start of October to 1 per 100K in week 46, dropping slightly in week 47 – too early to attach significance to this. 

By Age group: 85+ 12% (all per cents are estimates from the graph)
75-84 33%
65-74 33%
0-64 22%

(Flu admissions tracking as close to zero as may be since week 40.)

“Covid” Deaths

Covid” deaths rose from the low hundreds at start of October to 2500 in week 46, dropping slightly in week 47 – too early to attach significance to this. This equates to 4.5 deaths in per 100K of population in week 47, or 0.00045%.

(The PHE week 48 report strangely doesn’t report deaths from flu – in view of this and the preceding flu admissions data it seems reasonable to assume that flu deaths are negligible so far this year.)

NB: All hospital figures are presumably based on the result of the Covid PCR test administered on admission or at intervals post admission. The PCR test has no defined “false positive” rate but it has been estimated to lie between 0% and 4%, possibly unreliably. More here and here and here.

All Cause Deaths 

These have been rising above baseline since early October, but arguably are still within normal variability (for the statistically minded: between two (95%) and three (99%) standard deviations). 

Compared with the peak back in April, this is a molehill, but we must also consider the many deaths caused by (a) lockdown and its side-effects and (b) prioritisation of NHS services to Covid to the detriment of other ailments. Such deaths have not been specifically attributed and will be hidden in these figures somewhere.

Summary

Covid cases” in week 43 were around 8% of those tested, which would equate to 4.5 million “infections” in England in total, assuming that infections are evenly distributed. 

These 4.5 million week 43 “cases” led to around 2250 “covid” deaths four weeks later in week 47 (I’m talking ball-park figures now). That’s a “death rate” of 1 in 2000 if you have caught covid, or 0.05%.

For reference (by interpretation of the graph) baseline deaths from all causes at this time of year would be appear to be somewhere between 9 and 10 thousand per week. 

Deaths from repressive non-medical anti-Covid measures are in here somewhere – nevertheless winter deaths from all causes rose just as high in winter 2016/17 and higher still in winter 2017/18 (unless Covid surprises us all in December/January, which is a possibility; but if England follows the European trend we have likely seen the peak already).

Reminder 

Read the bit about the unknown accuracy of the PCR tests again and take the above as a worst case scenario – all these “inaccuracies” somehow work to exaggerate the influence of Covid.

Last Word

In view of all the above, it is quite hard now to see how Covid can still be considered a consequential threat unless we make unreasonably pessimistic assumptions about the future. 

As I do not work for SAGE, I will not do that.

 

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