Updated 9th April 2022

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Fall in UK COVID cases stalls

Written byZOE Editorial Staff

    According to ZOE COVID Study incidence figures, there are currently 45,911 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 only a slight fall from 46,905 new cases from last week, suggesting that the rate of decline has slowed down (Graph 1). 

    When divided by vaccination status it is estimated that among unvaccinated people in the UK there are currently 27,700 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID on average, this is a drop of 6.5% compared to last week (29,620). Comparatively there are currently 7,168 new daily symptomatic cases in partly vaccinated (1 dose) people and 11,043 new daily symptomatic cases in fully vaccinated people (2 doses) (Graph 2). 

    Whilst the data indicates there are more cases in the fully vaccinated group, this is because there are now significantly more people in the population who are fully vaccinated compared to those who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated. According to the latest government figures, 39,839,709 people in the UK have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 75% of the population. In addition to this, graph 2 appears to show that the cases in unvaccinated and partially vaccinated are now at similar levels, however, due to the small sample size in both of these groups there are large confidence intervals, meaning estimates are less accurate and should be treated with caution. 

    Graph 3 plots the ZOE prevalence figures alongside the other COVID-19 surveillance studies, which all lag the incidence data. This shows COVID prevalence in the UK peaked around July 29th, fell for a week and then has since stopped. 

    In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 98 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID (Table 1). 

    The UK R value is estimated to be between 0.8-1.0 and regional R values are; England, 0.9, Wales, 1.0, Scotland, 0.9 (Table 1). New cases are lowest in Scotland and Wales. 

    The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around one million weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 25,767 recent swab tests done between 24th July and 7th August 2021. 

    Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, comments on the latest data:

    The decrease in cases that we saw last week appears to have faltered over the last few days, and we’re seeing signs of an uptick. However, it’s too early to say if this is a start of another steep increase like the one we saw in July. While it’s reassuring to see loosened restrictions haven’t caused cases to sky rocket, it’s more difficult to predict the future. Cases remain relatively low in the fully vaccinated group, which is a sign that vaccines are working and keeping the spread at bay. 

    The current picture reflects some level of normal life returning to the UK. As a result we have lots of young and old people mixing again at large gatherings like weddings, which still carries risk with high case numbers and varying vaccination statuses between generations. We’ve recently observed a slight increase in cases in the over 60s who were vaccinated some time ago. This could be due to waning immunity and we’re keeping a close eye on the performance of vaccines over time. The key to reducing spread is to stay at home if you have symptoms, however mild and whatever your age.

    It’s also important to highlight that the data has an ever decreasing number of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated contributors as more people get their 2nd jab, so we are treating the data in these groups with caution. As always we are working hard to keep up with the pace of this pandemic so the ZOE team is looking at our methods to make sure we’re as accurate as possible.” 

    Graph 1. The ZOE COVID Study UK Infection Survey results over time 

    Graph 2. UK incidence figures by vaccination status

    Graph 3. A comparison of prevalence figures; ZOE COVID Study, ONS and REACT-1

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

    Map of UK prevalence figures