9 more deaths due to Covid-19 reported in 24 hours and 2,829 new coronavirus infections. 16,743 new cases in 7 days, R number up, ONS data showing early signs of an increase in number of people testing positive in England, transmission of the B.1.617.2 variant a growing concern. Not good signs, Dr Joe Pajak writes.

First published in May 2021.


As of 21 May 2021, 477 days since the presence of the SARS-CoV2 virus was first reported in Britain, it has since this time infected (according to reported positive cases) 4,457,923 people in the UK and caused 127,710 deaths (within 28 days of first positive test result); while official data indicate 151,904 deaths in total (where the death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes), according to Public Health England (PHE).

As of data reported on 20 May 2021, 37,518,614 people have received a first dose of vaccine against Covid-19 in the UK, while 21,659,783 people are now fully vaccinated.

The details.

Today’s data in the UK indicate sadly that 9 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours due to Covid-19. Transmission of the virus continues to be at a high level with 2,829 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, the second highest reported daily number since 19 April 2021. Significant increases.

“Early signs of an increase in the percentage of people testing positive among those aged 2 years to school Year 6, aged 35 to 49 years, and aged 70 years and over, although rates remain low across age groups in England in the week ending 15 May 2021.” (Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK – 21 May 2021)

It is also worth noting the average number of new coronavirus infections, and of deaths due to the virus, reported in the last 28 days of Covid-19 data: average (28-day) reported daily numbers of coronavirus infections (2,231) and the average (28-day) reported daily number of coronavirus deaths (12).

The 14-day cumulative number of infections reported has increased by 8.71% in the past 14 days from 29,920 to 32,525 (i.e. 14-day totals, from 8 May 2021 to 21 May 2021)

Travel across our borders presenting a clear risk, and many scientists, and politicians from different parties, continue to warn that holidays abroad this summer should be avoided. Potentially related, is the fact that across the UK, there is a worrying upwards trend in reported cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, originally detected in India, continues to gather pace.

Latest health care data indicate that 913 patients suffering from Covid-19 are currently occupying hospital beds (as of 19 May), and 123 patients are requiring intensive care support (as of 20 May) – a continuing concern for our National Health Service.

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 Full Data

UK COVID-19 data 🦠 reported on 21 May 2021:

(previous day’s figures and change in brackets)

  • 2,829 positive tests in the last 24 hours (↘️-45 on yesterday’s data)
  • 101 hospital admissions as of 17 May (↗️+24 since last data report on 16 May)
  • 913 hospital in-patients as of 19 May (↗️+19 since last data report on 18 May)
  • 123 patients on ventilation beds as of 20 May (↗️+1 since last data report which was on 19 May)
  • 9 deaths in the last 24 hours (↗️+2 since yesterday)

  • 4,457,923 total positive cases since the first case was reported at the end of January 2020
  • 127,710 total deaths – within 28 days of first positive test result (for COVID-19 reported up to 21 May 2021)

7-Day UK COVID-19 Data – Graph showing key data as trendlines as of 21 May 2021.

People vaccinated: (up to and including 20 May 2021)

  • 💉37,518,614 first doses (↗️+268,251)
    📈 71.23% of UK adults (18+)
    📈 56.17% of UK population
  • 💉21,659,783 fully vaccinated (↗️+420,312)
    📈 41.12% of UK adults (18+)
    📈 32.43% of UK population

Estimated ®️ number: (as of 21 May 2021)

  • 0.9 to 1.1
  • Latest growth rate range for England -2% to +1% per day

An R value between 0.9 and 1.1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 9 and 11 other people. A growth rate of between -2% and 1% means that the number of new infections could be broadly flat, shrinking by up to 2% every day, or growing by up to 1% every day. These estimates represent the transmission of COVID-19 2 to 3 weeks ago, due to the time delay between someone being infected, developing symptoms, and needing healthcare.

State of the UK epidemic:
To better understand the state of the epidemic in the UK, the UK government recommend “focusing on indicators for the 4 nations of the UK individually, rather than an average value across the UK.” Estimates of the R value and growth rate for different nations can be found via this link.

New infections and deaths in the last 28 days:

  • 62,459 new cases in total 🦠
  • 325 deaths in total

Days since:

  • 477 days since the first reported UK case
  • 441 days since the first reported UK death

The total number of people whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes: 151,904 – Registered up to Friday 7 May 2021.

These data, and trends, are shared to focus some light on the situation. We must never forget the data represent real people suffering, real people dying  

Data source:

21 May 2021 Change to reporting of daily new cases in England:

  • The way cases are reported in England has changed. Reported cases are sometimes removed if subsequent tests are negative. This happens when cases identified through a positive rapid lateral flow test are followed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests within 3 days that are all negative. These cases are now being removed daily.
  • Because of this, the number of newly-reported cases may not be the same as the difference between the total number of reported cases from one day to the next. The number of newly-reported cases in England and the UK is adjusted to take this into account, but the numbers for regions and local authorities are not adjusted. This means that for regions and local authorities, this figure does not show the actual number of new cases reported on that date. For analysis of trends in cases within England, use the data on new cases by specimen date rather than report date. The new cases by specimen date are always adjusted for the whole time series to take account of any changes.

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 an NHS foundation trust hospital.

[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 21 May 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]