Delta wave sweeps from west to east UK

July 1, 2021

This article has not been updated recently

According to ZOE COVID Study figures, it is estimated that among unvaccinated people in the UK there are currently 19,228 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID on average, based on PCR test data from up to five days ago [*]. An increase of 27% from 15,099 last week. Comparatively there are currently 5,982 new daily symptomatic cases in partly or fully vaccinated people, an increase of 49% from 4,023 new cases last week (Graph 1 below). The data continues to show that the positivity rate is much higher in those with just a first dose, compared to those who are double vaccinated (Graph 2 below). 

In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 205 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID. 

The risk and rate of change varies depending on the region. The UK R value is 1.1 and regional R values are; England, 1.1, Wales, 1.2, Scotland, 1.1 (full table of regional results below).

The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on around one million weekly reporters and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 7591 recent swab tests done between 12 and 26 June 2021. The data excludes lateral flow tests.



Rates of change increase in east UK, levelling off in west UK, but cases still up across the country

ZOE data has indicated that the rate of change of new cases in the UK has shown an increase in the east of the UK, including the North East, London and the East Midlands. While ZOE data shows the rate of change of new cases in previous hotspots in the West Midlands and South West are levelling off. 

There are localised outbreaks observed by ZOE this week. Here are the figures for the top regions with highest rates (cases/ 100,000) in descending order:

Vaccination rates are the lowest in London according to ZOE vaccine data, where ZOE reports show  70% of contributors have been vaccinated but only 31% have received double doses.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:

“While I predicted we may have reached the peak of COVID infections by now, it looks like this is only the case in the North West of England and West Midlands where the Delta variant got an early foothold. ZOE COVID Study data indicates rates are no longer increasing in these regions, but the rate of change is now going up in the east of the country. Places like the East Midlands, Aberdeen, the North East and NE London are seeing the highest rates of change, and I expect them to follow what we’ve seen in the North West over the next few weeks.

Cases continue to increase in holiday hotspots like Cornwall, Devon and along the South Coast in Brighton and Bournemouth. With the summer holidays approaching, we need to remain extra vigilant and avoid unnecessary risks. Euro 2020 has the potential to spread the virus among tens of thousands of fans, so I think because of these factors we’ll continue to see high rates for longer than expected.

While rates of COVID infection are high, it’s reassuring to see vaccinations protecting the vulnerable as hospitalisations and deaths remain very low. ZOE COVID Study data shows symptoms are more mild and are similar to those of a bad cold, with a runny nose, headache and a sore throat among the top symptoms for all groups. Sneezing has also emerged as a symptom among partially and fully vaccinated people. Cases are being missed and increasing the spread because people are unaware and unlike other countries, it doesn't feature in government lists.  So it’s crucial that we all recognise cold-like symptoms as possible COVID and get tested. While COVID doesn’t kill in the numbers it once did, it’s still a dangerous and unpredictable disease that can leave people with long lasting symptoms.”

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

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey results over time 

A graph showing the rates of prevalence by nations and regions over the last month

Map of UK prevalence figures

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