Real-time tracking of a pandemic, as data accumulate over time, is an essential component of a public health response to a new outbreak. A team of statistical modellers at the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit regularly nowcast and forecast COVID-19 infections and deaths. This information feeds directly to SAGE sub-group, Scientific Pandemic Influenza sub-group on Modelling (SPI-M) and to regional PHE teams.
The work uses a transmission model (preprint: Birrell et al. 2020), data on daily COVID-19 confirmed deaths from PHE (by NHS region and age group) and published information on the risk of dying and the time from infection to death, to reconstruct the number of new COVID-19 infections over time; estimate a measure of ongoing transmission (R); and predict the number of new COVID-19 deaths in different regions and age groups.
What do COVID-19 deaths tell us about the epidemic?
Graph of estimated number of new COVID-19 infections in England Graph of predicted deaths in England (red dots – observed)
The blue lines show when interventions have been introduced (lockdown on 23 Mar and the relaxation of measures on 11 May), and the red line shows the date these results were produced (17 Oct)
Latest Report on Nowcasting and Forecasting – 21st October 2020
Report on Nowcasting and Forecasting – 12th October 2020
Report on Nowcasting and Forecasting – 6th August 2020
Report on Nowcasting and Forecasting – 29th July 2020
How many COVID-19 deaths have occurred?
COVID-19 death occurrences are subject to delay in reporting and the assessment of deaths by date of death is inevitably distorted by such delay. Any nowcast and forecast of COVID-19 deaths needs to consider the number of deaths occurred but not yet reported.
October 2020: Using data available on 11th October and the improved method described in the article posted on MedRXiv in September, we have estimated the numbers of deaths for England. Estimates are given for each of two definitions of a COVID-19 death: i) death within 28 days of a positive antigen test, and ii) death within 60 days of a positive antigen test. Click on these links to view the figures.
September 2020: We have developed an improved method for accounting for reporting delay. This method is described in the article “Nowcasting CoVID-19 Deaths in England by Age and Region” by Seaman, Samartsidis, Kall and DeAngelis, posted on MedRxiv and available here: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.15.20194209v1.article-info
Report on Adjusting COVID-19 deaths to account for reporting delay – 17th June 2020
Report on Adjusting COVID-19 deaths to account for reporting delay – 26th April 2020
Report on Challenges in estimating the distribution of delay from COVID-19 death to report of death – 17th April 2020