The new Covid-19 strain appears to be taking its toll, perhaps more stringent UK-wide restrictions are now required, if not essential, Dr Joe Pajak writes.

First published in December 2020.

All NHS regions face the prospect of seeing the highest levels of Covid-19 inpatients since April 2020, with infection levels, and those needing specialist treatment, and intensive care, continuing to rise.  

In today’s press conference from 10 Downing Street, a number of questions, understandably, focused on whether Tier 4 was needed more widely across the UK.

Despite a lag in some of the healthcare figures, today’s data clearly indicates that the UK is becoming immersed in a further, more impactful, growing offensive by the Covid-19 virus.  

Boris Johnson. | Flickr - Number 10

Today’s government data indicates that in the past 14 days there have been an additional 335,553 positive cases reported, that’s around 58% up on the equivalent data for 7 December.

This, perhaps, also explains why most NHS England regions are under severe, and ever-growing, pressure due to the rising numbers of Covid-19 patients that need to be admitted to hospitals.

Alastair McLellan, Editor of Health Service Journal, wrote today that, “the majority of NHS England regions are struggling with Covid-19 inpatient pressure.

“All seven NHS England regions are now struggling under Covid-19 inpatient demand not seen since the peak of the pandemic in April.

Deaths of Covid-19 positive hospital patients have started to rise once more. The number of Covid-19 positive patients within English hospitals rose 2,256 to 16,183 over the seven days to 19 December. The 16.2 per cent increase compares to one of 7.4 per cent in the previous seven-day period, underlining the accelerating nature of the pandemic.

“The number of inpatients has now been increasing for a fortnight at an average rate of 229 a day. If that rate is maintained, the English NHS will end 2020 with approximately the same number of Covid-19 positive inpatients as at the peak of the pandemic on 12 April.”

The situation is fast moving, with large rises in infections being recorded in most regions, and it’s clear nowhere is immune from the disease or a rapid change in its prevalence locally.

Former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King, Chair of Independent SAGE, told Sky News earlier, “I think there’s no doubt about it, we need to go into lockdown”, adding that the new variant is “almost certainly” widespread.

While member of NERVTAG, Dr Ben Killingley, said on Sky News today that, “Tier 4 restrictions will need to continue until we get the vaccination really up and running to contain the spread of the new COVID-19 strain.”

One is left thinking, after today’s media conference, that the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance knows that greater restrictions are likely to be needed, and sooner rather than later.

Sir Patrick Vallance. | Flickr - Number 10

The data presented below is based on the latest figures provided today.

Today’s data in focus

Today’s data indicate the sad fact that a further 215 people have lost their lives in the last 24 hours in the UK, while the number of deaths in the last 14 days is at 6,199.  

Note: The data for deaths attributed to Covid-19, each following a reported positive test result for Covid-19 within 28 days of their death.

The data also indicate that there have been 335,553 new cases reported in the past 14 days, around 40% more than the 14-day figures reported a week ago on 14 December.

Today’s 14-day trendline chart is provided below:

UK Covid-19 headline data, reported on 21 December 2020:

  • 33,364 further positive tests
  • 215 further deaths in the last 24 hours
  • 2,034 further hospital admissions (reported as of 16/12)
  • 18,771 hospital in-patients in total (reported as of 17/12)
  • 1,364 patients on ventilation beds (reported as of 18/12)

326 days after the first case was reported in the UK, 2,073,511 cases have been reported, together with 67,616 deaths.  

However, these data include only those who have died within 28 days of testing positive; other measures suggest the number of deaths is higher: 76,287 being reported as “the total number of deaths of people whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes, registered up to Friday, 4 December 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.


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🗳️ Boris Johnson

[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 21 December 2020. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]