Jo Broadbent provided Members with an update on the latest Thurrock COVID-19 Data and Intelligence:
· Current Picture, Rate per 100K Population and Positivity – Thurrock had currently one of the lowest rates per 100K population in comparison with their neighbouring local authorities and not just amongst those neighbouring authorities but in the country where Thurrock was rated 136 out of 149 lowest rates per 100K population. The positivity rate was low and had been very low for some time but had increased slightly in the past couple of weeks with rates around 25 per 100K and was very low when compared to rates back in January 2021.
· Current Picture, Positive Tests by Age Band – That the majority of cases were within the under 40s, either in the cohort who had not been vaccinated or who had only received one vaccination. That around half of the cases were the Delta variant with the other half being the Alpha variant. That in Thurrock the Delta rates had not increased as sharply as it had in other areas in the country.
· BTUH Bed Occupancy – There had been a period where there were no COVID patients in the hospital and there were now still very low numbers.
· Geographical Distribution – The LSOA data showed no infections at all and those that had were between 1 and 9 cases in each unique postcode. Three schools had a live outbreak and one with a single case, no cases reported in care homes. This was really positive and compared favourably when compared to figures from a couple of months ago.
· Current Picture – Vaccinations by Priority Group – That over 90% of over 70s had received two doses of the vaccination, the over 50s now up to 69% having had two doses and this was now being rolled out to over 21s. NHS Colleagues are planning a weekend of vaccinations to get a real push to get as many vaccinations given as possible. There had been a high update of vaccinations for those clinical extremely vulnerable patients with 75% of our NHS and social care staff having had two doses of the vaccine.
· Other Cohorts – Continuing work with marginalised groups and three council traveller sites will be visited this week by the mobile vaccination team, work with services was currently being undertaken to support the homeless and asylum seekers. Some analysis of those geographical areas within the borough where the update had been lower which the mobile vaccination team will be visiting. Although the mainstream vaccinations were being undertaken through the NHS a lot of targeted work had been undertaken to get the vaccine numbers up.
· Communications – Focus on urging people to continue to follow the current government guidance and to get their vaccination when invited to do so. Planning communications with businesses via the Business Buzz and easy reach social media posts to support vaccine outreach.
Jo Broadbent concluded that:
· Thurrock’s overall rate of positive tests had increased slightly in recent weeks but remained towards the lowest levels in the country.
· Test positivity had increased slightly but remained towards the lowest level on record.
· Number of PCRs tests taken by Thurrock residents had remained fairly constant.
· LFD tests made up the majority of testing with results for 10,000 tests recorded in the last week.
· Geographic distribution of cases had remained broadly similar in recent days.
· Hospital bed usage due to COVID had remained low with only one COVID bed currently occupied.
· Vaccines continued to be administered in line with COVID vaccination priority groups.
· The Key Priorities were to maximise the vaccine uptake in all age groups and surveillance of the Delta variate and enhanced contact tracing.
Councillor Ralph requested information on the number of wastage or leftover vaccines at this time. Rahul Chaudhari stated that a piece of work had been undertaken about three week ago to look at the wastage number of vaccines and the actual wastage was 0.08% in line with the 100,000 dosages delivered so the wastage was very minimal. Some of this wastage could also be attributed in the way that it was delivered but was pleased to announce the numbers were very good.
Councillor Ralph questioned whether more PCR testing would be undertaken in line with the Delta variation now in Thurrock. Jo Broadbent stated there was the capacity of PCR testing in the borough if needed and that the testing sites would remain in situ for the current months.
Councillor Fish stated that in September last year the picture was similar to now in that we were in a pretty good position but in December/January the picture had changed and was horrendous. Even though the trends were going upwards and the number of vaccines ministered had increased he questioned whether we could expect a similar situation to happen again. Jo Broadbent agreed with Councillor Fish’s comments and stated the vaccination programme had put Thurrock in a very different position and the data available had stated that the protection after two doses was quite high and the delayed final stage of the roadmap would be to roll out the vaccine to another nine million people across England so there would be fewer small cohorts that would be susceptible to the infection going forward.
Councillor Polley questioned whether the current vaccine was adaptable if the Delta variant started to escalate in numbers. Jo Broadbent stated that work was ongoing across the pharmaceutical industry to develop and modify strains of the vaccine and eventually may have a mixture of strains in one vaccine. Councillor Polley continued to thank all the volunteers for their hard work at the vaccination centres.
Neil Woodbridge thanked the CCG colleagues for helping to ensure that disabled people and the most vulnerable groups had been supported but questioned whether there was a strategy in place that focused on those people from the black or minority ethnic community who were still resisting to have the vaccination. Jo Broadbent stated that it was hard to generalise across different ethnic groups and some analysis had been undertaken to pinpoint those geographical areas and to look at those cohorts on the basis of ethnicity vulnerability to try and reach as many people as possible. There had been some hesitancy about how the vaccine was rapidly developed and information needed to be provided to ensure residents that safety had not been comprised it had been done in a different way. Questions around fertility had been raised and there had also been a lot of misinformation on social media. These concerns could be targeted through social media messaging and through face to face communications to try and understand people’s concerns.