web analytics

New Year’s update on selected infectious diseases in England

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! TL&DR: The apparent collapse of the NHS is not due to the unprecedented numbers of cases.

Covid wave has slowed down although it is expected that it will pick up later this winter. RSV has definitely peaked, with flu cases possibly unreported creating some uncertainty about the peak. Scarlet fever cases are very high.

The data for major diseases in England have just been released, so here is a quick update on where we are with the major diseases. Bearing in mind that this is a festive period so the numbers are usually lower due to reporting, and also likely to change in the next week’s update.

Covid

The wave is definitely in. I am pretty sure the last point (week 52) will be revised upwards next week.

I still think that barring a new variant, this wave will be similar to the earlier ones this year – optimistically, the Autumn wave, but perhaps more realistically the two Spring ones.

The current trajectory lines up quite well with the death records over all the previous waves, except the two early omicron ones (December-March and March-June).

RSV

RSV is clearly past the peak. Moreover, as the graph above shows, the actual number of hospital admissions was lower than in the pre-pandemic years. So, it looked bad, but turned out to be better than expected.

Influenza

Influenza epidemic is where the main actions seems to be at the moment. The last two data points suggest we are riding the wave’s crest and following the 2019-20 pattern. If that holds over the next couple of weeks, we can expect a quiet spring.

But, as in the previous weeks, I expect the last two readings to be revised upwards and then we could enter a big flu year territory.

Scarlet Fever

This is not routinely reported by UKHSA and needs some digging in, but given interest in this disease, I decided to add it to the overview. I will be studying this very interesting graph in more details in future posts, but a couple of observations about the current year.

Firstly, notice the logarithmic scale. As a result, the 2022-23 outbreak is clearly unprecedented.

I do not know what to make of the week 50-52 readings with a jump of 20,000 cases in one week; I suspect part of it is due to reporting – cases from the previous weeks accumulating in the subsequent times.

Another hypothesis of a superspreader event (or events) is contradicted by wide geographical spread of cases. So, if genuine, this looks like a big and unusual outbreak, but the one that has been growing over the last season (notice the yellow line of 2021-22 data).

Moreover, comparison with other years suggests that we are not finished yet and I expect more cases – perhaps not as many as 20,000 per week, but certainly in the 4-digits range.