COVID cases declining but remain high and unpredictable

September 23, 2021

This article has not been updated recently

According to ZOE COVID Study incidence figures, in total there are currently 45,081 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on PCR and LFT test data from up to five days ago [*]. This is down 5% from 47,276 new daily cases last week. 

In the fully vaccinated population, it’s estimated there are currently 13,118 new daily symptomatic cases in the UK. Since last week, cases have fallen from 15,493 (Graph 1). 

Across the different age groups, there has been a slight uptick in daily new cases in the 30-39 age group, but the age group where cases are increasing the most is 0-19. In all other age groups, new cases are falling (Graph 2).

In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 95 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID (Table 1). 

The UK R value is estimated to be around 1.0 and regional R values are; England, 1.0, Wales, 1.0, Scotland, 0.9 (Table 1). Prevalence figures in the regions show that all regions are either falling or stable, apart from Wales, where cases are rising (Graph 3). 

According to the latest analysis from ZOE, it’s estimated that, at current rates, 680 people a day will go on to experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks. This is the predicted Long COVID incidence rate and is linked to the total new cases (Graph 4). 

Graph 5 plots the ZOE prevalence figures alongside government confirmed cases, which are lower but show similar patterns.

The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around 750,000 thousand weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 32,416 recent swab tests done between 4th and 18th September 2021. 

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, comments on the latest data:
“Another week of declining cases is positive news, but the decline is slow and unpredictable. As predicted, the return to school has led to climbing cases in the young. While it’s true that COVID in children is mostly mild, the real issue is their ability to pass on the virus to those who are most vulnerable. ZOE COVID Study data shows protection waning in those who were first in line for a vaccine, and so their risk of getting infected is rising. 
The UK still has more cases than most of Europe and I believe this is for two main reasons; the first is a lack of masks and social distancing and the second is because we’re ignorant of the symptoms. We should be looking out for things like sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. The classic three - cough, fever and anosmia are rarer these days, yet the government has done nothing. By not updating advice, we’re letting people into care homes, schools, workplaces and large gatherings displaying known signs of COVID. 1 in 95 people in the UK have COVID. If we don’t wake up to the fact these cold-like symptoms could be COVID, we will continue to keep numbers high, putting unnecessary strain on an exhausted NHS and letting more than 170 people die every day.” 

Graph 1. The ZOE COVID Study UK incidence figures results over time; total number of new cases and new cases in fully vaccinated

Graph 2. Incidence by age group 

Graph 3. Prevalence by region

Graph 4. Predicted Long COVID incidence over time

Please refer to the publication by Thompson at al. (2021) for details on how long covid rates in the population are modelled

Graph 5. A comparison of prevalence figures; ZOE COVID Study, and confirmed cases

Table 1. Incidence (daily new symptomatic cases)[*], R values and prevalence regional breakdown table 

Map of UK prevalence figures

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