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Risk of infection is probably higher now than at the start of lockdown?

(53 Posts)
SeenBaun Tue 12-May-20 16:15:35

Seen a couple of threads about this on twitter. Obviously we don't have any reliable data about how many actual positive CV cases there are in the UK population versus before lockdown (rather than just those who have formally been tested positive) but it's bound to be higher now than on 23 March when the official number of active cases was around 6000. It's now around 190,000 and still rising daily.

So even if we assume there were 20 (just a number I've plucked out of the air)x 6000 cases at the start of lockdown there are still almost definitely more now, right? and each case is a risk of infection to the non-infected. The only way this isn't true is if lack of testing in March accounts for the difference between 6k and 190k. which seems a stretch.

Informally I've heard that numbers of new cases are rising again.

I do feel despair at the lockdown being perceived as having lifted and at the lack of strategy in testing and isolating.

Sorry if I'm covering ground that's been discussed here already, I don't go on here much and find it a bit overwhelming!

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SeenBaun Tue 12-May-20 16:17:25

I got the 190k number from Worldometer but this number suggests 136k as a recent estimate
www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurvey/england10may2020

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SorrelBlackbeak Tue 12-May-20 16:21:10

Tbh, lack of testing in March probably amounted to substantially more than 190k. Probably around 4-5 million people have been infected so far. The easiest way to calculate is backwards - 50,000 people dead at around a 1% death rate = 5 million infected.

NellieDingle Tue 12-May-20 16:22:52

but isn't the death rate higher than 1%?

SeenBaun Tue 12-May-20 16:23:26

Hmm, but the death rate is calculated by number of cases, surely!

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Northernsoullover Tue 12-May-20 16:26:57

We have absolutely no idea of the death rate. As for risk of infection I'd say its low (my guesstimate) at the moment but with the potential to rise quickly. Choose your freedoms carefully.

NellieDingle Tue 12-May-20 16:31:22

Clearly the lack of true figures is a great cause of concern, there is no hope of getting on top of this at this rate!

Sockwomble Tue 12-May-20 16:34:03

The covid 19 app predicts 240k currently and 1700k on 29th March.

feelingverylazytoday Tue 12-May-20 16:35:17

This indicates that the IFR (death rate) is below 1% www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.03.20089854v1

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 12-May-20 16:36:27

I am utterly confused about the logic behind this thread. Why would be at more risk? More people have had it, but they won't all be infectious.
Right now the risk will be low. Problem is it could rise again quickly if people don't socially distance.

SeenBaun Tue 12-May-20 16:38:00

Active cases means people who are infectious now, not who have had it and recovered. More infectious people means higher risk of infection.

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Sockwomble Tue 12-May-20 16:41:48

There aren't more infectious people now.

nether Tue 12-May-20 16:41:59

Two things:

a) is it yet known for sure when people cease to be infectious? For there are some individuals who continue to shed virus for quite some time. Not clear if that's common or just a few outliers, or if it is likely to be an actual infection risk

b) is trace/track/isolate sufficiently ready? I don't see how loosening restrictions can lead to anything other than a worryingly high increase in R without that in place.

cathyandclare Tue 12-May-20 16:44:58

We're getting more cases now because we're testing much more widely. NHS workers, care workers, any other people that work out of home, over 65s, random samples, people on the app. Before lockdown we were only testing people in hospital, so only the most serious cases. Research shows that the great majority are milder, with a significant proportion having minimal/no symptoms. We are now picking up more of these.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 12-May-20 16:46:28

But where are you getting 190k from? Worldometer gives that but it is the number you arrive at if you take total infections for the uk and subtract deaths , so it assumes NOBODY has recovered, which is clearly not true. The U.K. doesn't track recoveries so that part of the Worldometer data is meaningless.

SeenBaun Tue 12-May-20 16:53:50

Ok, I didn't realise how worldometer calculate active cases so that's my error. I guess my question is one that can't be answered definitively, ie what is the difference in numbers of people currently infected now vs before lockdown. We can only guess at how much is accounted for by changes in testing and how much is genuine increase.

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nellodee Tue 12-May-20 16:58:56

Positive tests remain quite steady, but amount and targetting of testing varies. Deaths are declining, but are a poor current picture due to the time delay. I think the most useful statistic is the one that Worldometers doesn't have - hospitalisations. I think this is probably lower than at the beginning of lockdown and would guess that we have slightly fewer cases now than we did then. The problem is, cases can rise very, very quickly. We only had 1 case in February.

Sunshinegirl82 Tue 12-May-20 17:00:05

Rate of hospitalisation is your best guide at present. The more people infected, the more people are hospitalised.

Rate of hospitalisation has been falling steadily since mid April. I would say risk of infection now is low. It will rise if the R level rises above 1. Hopefully that won’t happen. If it does we will revert to lockdown.

SeenBaun Tue 12-May-20 17:09:18

Is there hospitalization data available, sunshinegirl?

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Sunshinegirl82 Tue 12-May-20 17:12:03

The numbers hospitalised are shown in a graph everyday on the daily briefing. Copies of the slides are here.

www.gov.uk/government/collections/slides-and-datasets-to-accompany-coronavirus-press-conferences

I don’t think the usual slides were shown yesterday or Sunday so you might need to go back to Saturday.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 12-May-20 17:18:13

They have just shown today's, it's still going downsmile

nellodee Tue 12-May-20 17:29:09

This is what frustrates me - cases are coming down pretty well. If the government can get its act together over testing, we could really be back to something quite like normal very soon. Tonnes of people saying "What's the point in waiting another month? This isn't going away." Well no, but it is dwindling massively and opening up a whole load of new options of testing and tracing.

You hear things in the news like "Germany closes down city as new cluster emerges". Right now, we don't have the technology to spot a cluster. We aren't doing contact tracing. If we had ten new cases in Merseyside, we wouldn't work out that they all been conga dancing, because we don't do that kind of work yet. We wouldn't bother looking at the other people in the conga line. We'd just let them go about their daily business. And so our cluster would just become a new peak. It doesn't have to. We can actually get on top of this much better than we are currently.

Sorry, rant over.

PineappleDanish Tue 12-May-20 17:32:06

There aren't more infectious people now.

Agree. We're just finding out who they are by testing them.

Eyewhisker Tue 12-May-20 17:37:42

Agree that we could/should be getting back to normal now. We have to learn to live with the virus and the risk to the majority of the population - those under 50 is really really low. It would make more sense to have shielding for high-risk groups than this economic collapse (delayed by a ballooning tax bill for our children) as well as denying children an education or any normal coming of age. This is just collective madness.

cathyandclare Tue 12-May-20 17:41:11

It looks to me like they're struggling to find enough people to test. There's lots of testing capacity unused. Surely now we need to start testing increasing numbers of symptomatic people, building up to everyone with early symptoms and see where we are.

It may get overwhelmed, but we'll only know if we go for it and we may find that we have capacity.

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