COVID update 29th May 2021:
Given how far the vaccine rollout has progressed and the available news flow on COVID I am only producing these updates on an occasional basis following briefings for MPs from the CCG, Ministers and clinicians.
The latest infection rates give some cause for concern and show how we must continue to be vigilant or else the much-needed end to lockdown we are all looking forward to on June 21st may be delayed. The Government will be monitoring the situation closely and will make further announcements over the next few weeks.
Nationally, there is concern that in parts of the country that the R infection rate may have risen above 1 again which means the infection is growing, aided in part by the dominance of the so-called Indian variant now. Yesterday the number of new infections at 4182 was the highest since the beginning of April and a 24% increase on last week. The numbers admitted to hospital were 134, up 25.2% on the week though the total in hospital remains low at 889 in total. Fortunately, the death rate remains low and the daily rolling average over the week is still in single figures at 8.3 though that is also up from 6 last week.
The picture is patchy nationally and the higher numbers testing positive also reflect the very high numbers of daily tests now being carried out especially in those areas of concern like Bolton, Bradford and Glasgow for example. Internationally the UK had been as low as 35th in the international rankings for numbers of new infections recorded but we are now ranked 20th though on the international comparisons for COVID deaths per capita having once topped the table we are now down to 16th.
Locally rates are very low and yesterday Worthing was one of the lowest rates in the country at 0.9 per 100,000 and Adur was just 4.7, against the England average of 24.1. Incidence of the Indian variant is very low across the whole of the South-East but the local CCG has the capacity in place in Sussex to deploy surge testing rapidly if required.
- Across Sussex more than a million people have received their first dose, and over 700,000 their second. Across the 9 priority cohorts the take-up is now well over 90% and most people have received both doses. Just 38,200 people in Sussex remain unjabbed in those 9 cohorts and they will continue to be contacted.
- For Cohort 10 (people in their forties) 78% have been given a first dose in West Sussex and for Cohort 11 (people in their thirties) the figure is 42%
- Currently anyone aged 30 or above can book an appointment at one of the vaccination centres and as usual GP surgeries will still be contacting you directly if you prefer to wait and stay local. Most GP hubs though are still focussing on second doses.
- Next week it is likely that vaccinations will be opened up to remaining people aged 18-29 and this will probably be done on a gradual basis from 29 downwards as has been happening quite rapidly with those in their thirties.
- As mentioned before as some GP surgeries decide they need to focus on catching up with non-COVID patients and decide not to offer first dose vaccinations to their patients anymore, new vaccination locations are likely to be opened up by the CCG, using pop-ups or pharmacists for example. Whilst no final decisions on individual surgeries have been taken yet the CCG are looking actively for a new site in Worthing. It remains a difficult balancing act to maintain the pace of the vaccination programme using GPs and their staff against catching up with non-COVID patients and the CCG is working hard to try to speed up the catch-up. I know many constituents have written to me with their frustration at not being able to get face to face appointments easily.
- Planning is taking place for an Autumn booster programme though this is likely to be focussed on the 9 priority cohorts and may be combined with the flu jab. The Government is also looking at a separate Vaccination Workforce so as to reduce reliance on GPs who obviously have their work cut out elsewhere. It will also depend on what vaccines are licenced for use by then although it is good news that the new Janssen vaccine has now been approved for use in the UK as it only requires one jab not two.
Keep safe everyone and remember to take up the call as soon as you qualify for a jab.