When can we ease lockdown? ZOE forecasts COVID cases to spring

February 12, 2021

This article has not been updated recently

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures, there are currently 14,818 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on swab tests data from up to five days ago [*]. This compares to 20,360 daily new symptomatic cases a week ago, a decrease of 27%. Since the peak of 69,000 daily new cases around the 1st January, cases have fallen by around 79%. (Full table of regional results below). In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 233 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID.

According to predictions made using the latest estimate of the R value for the UK[**], in two weeks (25th February), the ZOE COVID Symptom Study predicts that there will be 5,761 new daily cases and an estimated 1 in 457 active cases. On the 8th of March, when it is hoped schools will be able to open again, the ZOE app predicts that there will be 3,373 new daily cases and an estimated 1 in 780 active cases, the same levels last seen at the beginning of June 2020. (See projection graph below). 

Other key findings from ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey this week: 

  • The UK R value is 0.8
  • Regional R values are: England, 0.8, Wales, 0.9, Scotland, 0.8 
  • Daily new cases are still falling faster in England and Scotland compared to last week and the R value of 0.9 remains in the Wales (full table of R values below)
  • London has the lowest R value of 0.7, suggesting numbers are falling fast in this region despite the predominant B1.1.7 variant. However, it is still the second highest risk area with an estimated 1 in 152 people with symptomatic COVID 
  • The highest risk areas in the UK are currently, Birmingham (1 in 135), London (1 in 152) and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (1 in 160) (full tables of results below)
  • Cases are coming down in all age groups, with the daily new cases in age groups closer than they have been for many months (see graph below)

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures are based on around one million weekly reporters and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 15,531 recent swab tests done between 24 to 07 February 2021.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:
“Based on the ZOE data and our predictions we are soon to be in the same place we were in early June, with the advantage of having a large proportion of the population vaccinated which could mean good news in terms of lifting some restrictions sooner rather than later. By 8th March we should have less than 1 in 740 people with symptoms allowing us to get kids back into the classrooms and starting to allow people to exercise and meet, at least outdoors, where the risk of transmission is much lower.
Until then it’s important to keep following the guidelines, even if you have had a vaccine, and keep reporting symptoms and getting tested even if your symptoms are not typical.”

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study daily new cases projections

Worst affected region in England:

Incidence / Daily new symptomatic cases regional breakdown [*] 

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey results over time for the UK

Table of R Values

Map of UK prevalence figures

Estimated rate of people with Symptomatic COVID across age groups

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