COVID-19: How does the ‘new’ COVID variant compare with the ‘old’? |

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COVID-19: How does the 'new' COVID variant compare with the 'old'? |

COVID-19: How does the 'new' COVID variant compare with the 'old'? |

well lots of scary data on covert 19 scary charts and things but how worried should we actually be let’s go through some of those data points and get a sense of what’s really going on it’s worth saying there’s so much uncertainty about some of these numbers but they are crucial and we need to take a look at them and work out just you know how scared uh we should be and there is one line one data point in particular that boris johnson found very scary this just shows you daily cases by specimen date so this is probably when you’re looking at covert charts this is maybe the one that you’ve seen first off number of cases uh in the uk and that there was one day of data which apparently swung that decision to go for a lockdown on the 29th of december over 80 000 new cases those were cases that were recorded on that day a striking figure a scary figure but it is worth saying a number that perhaps is higher than it should have been just because of where it fell in the month that was the 29th of december and you’ve probably guessed this already 29th of december the first working day after the christmas holiday so you had christmas day there you can see a big fall obviously there but a lot of people the expectation there’s a lot this is called generally speaking the bank holiday effect after you have a big period of holiday you tend to see a big jump in activity on the day after that and that is possibly what’s happened here we’ll have to have a look but the effect of that might be to make the shape of that increase look a little bit scarier than it really is to make it look like more of a kind of hockey stick shape whereas it could actually look slightly more shallow we’ll have to see but if you take this this data and kind of go back through history well it’s clear you know that is a hockey stick shape there isn’t it this is just cases going all the way back to the start of this pandemic and it’s very clear there’s a very there’s a kind of increase around the kind of autumn period and then you had that first lockdown then it went down and then potentially that’s the new variant coming in in the december period but while it looks like we’re in a much worse position than we were in the spring bear in mind we are testing a lot more at the moment than we were back in the spring so a better way of measuring the prevalence of this disease is doing positive cases as a percentage of total tests and if you do that it is actually a slightly different picture it’s this line here you can see a lot higher in the spring the positivity rate higher actually than we’re at at the moment and a bit steeper too so while this line is certainly going up this black line here showing you percentage of positive tests it is lower than it was in the spring and perhaps a little bit less steep and as i say some of the kind of hockey stick effect there might be down to the kind of timing of christmas and where that falls we will have to see you know so much of this data can change so quickly um but that’s a bit of kind of historical context let’s do a bit of geographical context because some people have been making out that the uk is in a uniquely bad position around the world that you know nowhere else has covered quite as badly as we do here and while certainly there is this new variant it’s worth just looking comparing our positivity rate with other countries uh to get a sense of of context so ireland you can see actually starting to rise quite sharply uh more recently but a lower level uh than england uh germany kind of going up in the same direction kind of getting towards uh those kind of kind of actually kind of getting more or less beyond where they were uh in the spring in germany uh and the us those numbers are slightly out of date but they haven’t kind of but uh it has actually started to increase since then but other countries and those are all below the uk other countries having a far worse pandemic right now and the czech republic in other parts of eastern europe is really terrible and in south africa going up very sharply indeed and the point here is not really to to compete it’s not about a kind of league table of covert and there are many other countries which are doing a lot better than than these ones but to show that england isn’t uniquely very uniquely badly at the moment it is kind of amongst those countries which aren’t doing very well at the moment and part of the reason for that as we all know uh is down to this new variant and one of the big questions i’ve been wondering is how much is the new variant of covert 19 contributing to the spread of this disease and up until now we haven’t really had a sense of that but there has been new data just out from the ons on this showing you kind of the breakdown and this line again it’s the same kind of thing the total percentage of the population which has the disease according to the ons models and this is perhaps the most definitive measure of it and you can see that it goes up a bit in the kind of uh october around that kind of autumn period and then rises much more sharply that hockey stick that we see in december how much of that is down to the new variant of this disease well they’ve broken it down you can see the gray bit there is the old covert as it were and the white bit is new covered and yes you can see look it’s about 60 of all those new cases are new covered this new variant of the disease so certainly seems to be responsible for a lot of that growth in the virus and of course the big question now is what happens with all these cases do we see hospitals filling up even more do we see more deaths well let’s have a look at the picture uh for hospitals it’s another one of those scary charts that you might have seen recently showing you covered patients in hospitals across the uk and perhaps you can make it out here look at this we’re now above the april peaks so more patients cover patients in hospitals than there were in april and actually this line here is for the uk so it’s kind of composite of all of the different uh parts of the uk but because some of the the some parts of the uk including scotland take a while to report the numbers you don’t really get a very up-to-date picture so the more up-to-date numbers for england so just england just that white bit show you that it’s even higher now a lot higher than it was back in the spring so again is this something we should be concerned about well clearly it is that we’re seeing a rise in the number of covered patients in hospitals but again some context back then in the spring it certainly was high but remember we weren’t testing for covert 19 as much as we are now and so it’s quite possible that what we have there is a bit of an undercount of the real situation it’s quite possible that while numbers are rising fast at the moment they still aren’t where they are in terms of the overall pressure on hospitals as you had uh in the spring we’ll have to see again it’s worth just looking at but one way of gauging just how much pressure there is on hospitals is looking at the amount of capacity the amount of spare capacity across hospitals and this shows you hospital beds in england generally acute hospital beds just in england specifically and what you can see here is this black bit at the bottom is covered patients and certainly it is increasing you can see that can’t you but it doesn’t look quite as dramatic as it does when you’re just looking at that covered series and you can see that the majority considerable majority of patients of beds are occupied by non-cover patients so the idea of this disease completely engulfing uh and overtaking all other uh all other kind of diseases within hospitals isn’t right at all there is still some capacity you see that slice at the top unoccupied hospital beds but we’ll be keeping an eye on this over the course of the next few weeks also of course depressingly keeping an eye on the number of deaths from this disease at the moment they’re still relatively low compared certainly with the spring but the concern is that with cases being so high they might increase as well that will give us a more definitive sense on how the disease has come back and how big of a second or indeed third wave this is so stay tuned we’ll have more data in the coming weeks

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credit by: morgan center library and Sky news on youtube



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