As the UK reported 414 more deaths today, the arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should be celebrated as being the result of immense international scientific effort – away from any vaccine nationalism, Dr Joe Pajak writes.

First published in December 2020.

414 more deaths have been reported today (3 December) each following a reported positive test result for COVID-19 within 28 days of their death, the figure was 648 yesterday.

However, consistent recording and reporting of data present their own challenges in terms of reliable interpretation – hence many prefer looking at data over a period of 7 days, or 14 days, to give a more accurate picture of the situation.

For example, today, Thursday 3 December 2020, official UK government data indicate that 6,343 people have died in the past 14 days (each following a reported positive test result for COVID-19 within 28 days of their death).

Looking at the chart below, the UK appears to be approaching another ‘turning point’ in the pandemic. Government data indicates there have been 222,163 new cases reported in the past 14 days, around a 33% reduction on the 14-day figures reported on 20 November.

However, while the number of cases has reduced, there is a concern that positive tests are, to some extent, simply a function of the number of tests undertaken. Hence, the true number of coronavirus infections in communities is potentially somewhat higher. The question is how much higher? Given this issue, perhaps the impact of the new system of ‘Tiers’ across England introduced on 3 December will need longer than 14 days to determine its true impact.

On a much more positive note, it’s clear the arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and others in due course, to protect us all from Covid-19, will not come soon enough; and although vaccine rollout will come with its own challenges, this achievement should nevertheless be celebrated. It should also be celebrated as being the result of immense international scientific effort.

To quote Sir Jeremy Farrar, Vaccine nationalism has no place in COVID or other public health matters of global significance. Science has always been the exit strategy from this horrendous pandemic – that science has been global and has needed an unprecedented global partnerships and global financing.”

Today’s headline data, as reported on 3 December 2020 is as follows:

  • 14,879 positive tests
  • 414 more deaths in the last 24 hours
  • 1,350 hospital admissions (last reported on 29/11)
  • 15,236 hospital in-patients (last reported on 01/12)
  • 1,315 patients on ventilation beds (last reported on 02/12)
  • 222,163 new cases reported in the last 14 days according to government data.

The wider context since the first reported UK case, at the end of January 2020, is that there have been 1,674,134 cases of coronavirus in the UK; and according to today’s government figures 60,113 people have died.

However, these data include only those who have died within 28 days of testing positive; other measures suggest the number of deaths is actually higher: 69,752 being reported today as “the total number of deaths of people whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes, registered up to Friday, 20 November 2020.”🔷

Data source:

Dr Joe Pajak, Professional experience applied scientific research and development, then director of a national children’s charity, trustee of a disability charity, and governor of NHS foundation trust hospitals.

[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 3 December 2020. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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