Real time monitoring of COVID-19
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 (MRC) Biostatistics Unit (BSU) are working with Public Health England (PHE) to regularly nowcast and forecast COVID-19 infections and deaths. This information feeds directly to SAGE sub-group, Scientific Pandemic Influenzasub-group on Modelling (SPI-M) and to regional PHE teams.
The work uses a transmission model, 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?
England – estimated number of new COVID-19 infections England – Observed (red dots) and predicted deaths
Blue line: lockdown (23rd March 2020); red line: analysis date (11th May 2020)
Report on Nowcasting and Forecasting
Our understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving. We are adapting the model we use for pandemic nowcasting and forecasting (including estimation of the R number) to reflect the changing circumstances, including the continued easing of lockdown restrictions. The updated figures will be published shortly.
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.
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