We have published a new report on our real-time tracking of COVID-19.
- The estimated number of new daily infections on 29th July across England has dropped 75% from our last report and is now 75,200 (62,300–89,900, 95% credible interval) infections per day, corresponding to a national daily infection rate of 134 per 100k population. The highest rate remains in the North, with the highest rate that of the North West (NW) with 245 infections per 100K population, slightly ahead of Yorkshire and The Humber (YH) with 210 and the North East (NE) on 169. All other regions are below the national average, with the East Midlands (EM) and West Midlands (WM) on 117 and 112 respectively, both the South West (SW) and East of England (EE) on 108. Greater London (GL) and the South East (SE) are estimated to have the lowest rates of infection with both below 100 infections per 100k per day. Note that a substantial proportion of these infections will be asymptomatic.
- The model predictions for the daily number of new diagnoses in hospitals reached a low of 1.8k per day around July 9th and has fallen sharply since, currently halving in number every 18.0 days across the country. We forecast that by August 19th, there will be 350–600 new diagnoses in hospitals per day.
- The infection growth rate for England is -0.04 (-0.06– -0.03) per day. This means that, nationally, the number of infections is decreasing, corresponding to an Rt of around 0.65–0.70.
- All regions are estimated to have Rt less than 1. The decline is fastest in the SE and slowest in YH.
- Our estimates for the attack rate, the proportion of a population who have ever been infected, is up to 86.7% nationwide, and is now over 90% in three regions, NE, WM and GL. The estimated total number of infections to date (69.2m) far exceeds the size of the population of England, due to the presence of reinfections.
- Note that the hospitalised diagnosis data used are only partially 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 significant revision.
Across England, we estimate that since July 9th the daily number of diagnoses in hospitals is declining. PCR-positive infection prevalence is estimated to be similarly decreasing in all ONS regions and in all age groups.
Overall, since December 1st 2021, the Omicron variant has resulted in the cumulative number of infections increasing from 24.8 million individuals to 69.2 million. In total, 30% of all infections over the course of the entire pandemic are re-infections and this fraction is only expected to increase as currently we estimate 51% of new infections are first infections.
During the Omicron-era, December 2021-May 2022, we estimate a fall of around 75% in the IHR in the age groups over 45 and a decline of over 50% in the under 45 age groups. Since May, we estimate an increase in the IHR in the under-45s, though not back to pre-Omicron levels. There are small increases in the 45-64 and 65-74 age groups, whilst for the over-75s there is still evidence of an improving IHR. This phenomenon in the under-45s could, in part, be explained by a reduced protection from the vaccines against severe symptoms due to infection with BA.4 and BA.5. Additionally, the model does not yet include the second booster vaccinations that the over-75 age group have received, so any consequent improvement in health outcomes will be attributed to a drop in IHR. The overall IHR increases only modestly over this most recent period, from 0.7% to 0.8%. The over-75s still have the highest IHR at 3.3% (3.2%–3.4%).
Comment from lead researcher, Dr Paul Birrell:
The Omicron BA.5 wave of infection has now peaked and is on a downward trajectory, though infection levels are still high. The peak happened sufficiently long ago that hospital admissions are also clearly falling, halving on average every 18 days. This week we have estimated the fraction of infections that are re-infections, with the model output showing that very nearly half of all infections are now re-infections, whilst overall an estimated 30% of the total number of infections are re-infections. We will continue to monitor the pandemic development and to adapt our model to be able to make more conclusive statements about the apparent increased severity of the BA.4 and BA.5 strains.”