We have published a new report on our real-time tracking of COVID-19.
- The estimated number of new daily infections on 11th November across England is a still-high 69,600 (50,800–98,700, 95% credible interval) infections per day, corresponding to a national daily infection rate of 124 per 100k population. The highest rate is in the North East and Yorkshire (NE) (160 infections per 100k population) ahead of both London (GL) and the Midlands (Mids) where we estimate 146 new infections per 100k population per day. All other regions are below the national average, with the South West (SW) the next highest (116 new daily infections per 100k) and the North West has the lowest rate (68 per per 100K). All estimates are, however, highly uncertain.
- Since a peak around the 10th October, predictions for the daily number of new diagnoses in hospitals have declined steadily, currently halving in number every 24 days. We forecast that by December 2nd, there will be 49–144 new diagnoses in hospitals per day.
- The rate of growth of infections in England is -0.01 (-0.03– 0.02) per day. This means that, nationally, the number of infections is most likely to be decreasing, corresponding to an Rt of around 0.95. Our results show, however, that Rt > 1 cannot be ruled out, and so there exists the possibility that infection levels are growing once again.
- The central estimate for Rt is less than 1 in all regions. The corresponding decline in infections appears fastest in the South East (SE) and slowest in Mids, where we estimate a 42% probability that infection is increasing.
- Our estimates for the attack rate, the proportion of a population who have ever been infected, is up to 94.2% nationwide, and is now almost certainly over 90% in all regions. The estimated total number of infections to date (86.9m) far exceeds the size of the population of England, due to the presence of reinfections. On average people have experienced over 1.5 infections, though this will differ significantly by age.
- 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 October 10th the daily number of diagnoses in hospitals has been declining. PCR-positive infection prevalence is estimated to be similarly decreasing in all NHS regions and in all age groups.
Currently Rt is below, but close to, 1. Based on the periodicity of the Omicron waves and the degree of waning of immunity required to generate these waves, there is a possibility of a new wave occurring and this leads to increased uncertainty in the nowcast estimates. This is reflected in the estimate for daily incidence,which could be anywhere in the range 50k–100k daily new infections.
The Omicron variants have led to more than a tripling in the total number of infections. However, this has not translated into a proportionate increase in new diagnoses in hospitals. Accordingly, since mid-September, we estimate a steep decline in the infection-hospitalisation ratio in younger age groups (and a less steep decline in older ages groups). This decline also coincides with a change to testing policy for new admissions. Therefore it is difficult to quantify the severity of the virus exactly as both reduced severity and reduced ascertainment will contribute to recent trends in IHR. Currently 0.13% of infections are detected in new admissions to hospital, with this figure rising to 1.1% in the over-75s.
Comment from lead researchers – Prof Daneila De Angelis & Dr Paul Birrell
The current trend in infection appears to be downward, though infection levels are still high. The peak happened sufficiently long ago that hospital admissions are also clearly falling, halving just over every three weeks on average. However, due to the period with which the Omicron waves of infection have occurred, we anticipate further waves, and this is making the current picture of the pandemic quite uncertain, with a resurgence in infection possible before Christmas. This uncertainty is amplified by the reduction in testing in hospitals, making any signals in the data harder to detect. We will continue to monitor the pandemic development to capture any increases in infection as soon as they become apparent.