We have published a new report on our real-time tracking of COVID-19.
We have highlighted the key updates and provided interpretation of what these updates mean. The lead researchers have also given their headline comment.
- The estimated number of new daily infections on the 26th November across England is 50,300 (43,500–57,600, 95% credible interval). The daily infection rate is estimated to be 90 per 100k population per day nationally. The highest rate is in the North East (NE) with 153 infections per 100K population followed by the East Midlands (EM) at 148 and the South East (SE) at 105. These rates correspond to 4,080, 7,110 and 9,600 daily infections, respectively. In most of the remaining regions rates are around 80 per 100K population (East of England (EE), West Midlands (WM), London (GL) and the South East (SE)) while lowest at around 50 in the North West (NW) and Yorkshire and Humber (YH). Note that a substantial proportion of these infections will be asymptomatic.
- The daily number of deaths is declining, and we forecast between 105 and 174 deaths per day by the 17th of December, slightly higher than what we predicted last week.
- This week it is unlikely that Rt is bigger than 1, with a reasonable chance only in the NE, SE (55% and 45% respectively). For everywhere else, the chance of Rt being above 1 is around 10% or less.
- The growth rate for England remains at -0.01 (-0.02– 0.00) per day. This means that, nationally, the number of infections is decreasing, corresponding to an Rt of around 0.9, consistent with last week’s results.
- Our estimates for the attack rate, that is the proportion of the regional populations who have ever been infected, have NE at 59% and GL at 56%. WM, YH and NW are all also above the national average with 53%, 49% and 50% respectively.The SE and SW continue to have the lowest attack rates at 37% and 36%. These are consistent with last week’s estimates.
- Note that the deaths data used are only very weakly informative on Rt over the last two weeks. Therefore, the estimate for current incidence, Rt and the forecast of daily numbers of deaths are likely to be subject to some revision.
Our estimates show a pandemic with Rt values estimated mainly to remain below 1. We can now confirm that this fall in transmission has percolated through to the deaths, with the number of deaths occurring daily having peaked in the first week of November.
Plots of the IFR over time show that from the end of January we estimate a decreasing IFR in all adult age groups, but most steeply in the older ages. This drop indicates the benefits of immunisation against death over and above the benefits against infection. Following this drop, there has been a period of plateau followed by a gradual increase in the overall IFR to 0.3% (0.29%–0.31%). However, the age-specific IFRs appear to be falling, suggesting that the overall increase is due to shifting age patterns towards older people being infected. The estimated IFR is highest in the over-75s at 3.4% (3.3%–3.7%)
For context, in addition to the data used here, the number of reported new positive cases (by date of specimen) is very slightly increasing. As a caveat to this, trends in the number of reported cases are highly dependent on the volume and targeting of testing, the public’s testing behaviour and significant reporting delays, and therefore are difficult to interpret. Overall, there have been 8.7million positive tests, which, compared to our estimate of cumulative incidence, would suggest that, overall, around 1 in 3 infections have been identified. This seems plausible, particularly when considering the low ascertainment rates of the first wave. Admissions to hospitals have been falling in number, and the prevalence of infection, as estimated by the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey, remains stable around 1.6% in England, while showing some slight increasing trends in some regions.
Comment from lead researchers, Prof Daniela De Angelis & Dr Paul Birrell
We still estimate an epidemic in decline, with a national infection rate now at around 90 per 100,000 population. This decline is estimated on the basis of prevalence estimates from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey, data from serological studies and daily deaths. The number of deaths has peaked and prevalence is mainly stable, although showing a potential recent increase. These trends are set against plateaus in the number of cases and hospitalisations.
This encouraging picture might quickly change if the new omicron variant spreads across the country. We will monitor the situation closely.”