Tim Spector’s Symptom Tracing app. Data update: New COVID prevalence figures for the UK

Three months on, the data science team at ZOE and King’s College London behind the COVID Symptom Study app have taken the decision to update the way prevalence is calculated.

New tabulation for the four Seaside districts Owl is following posted below indicating 70 prevalent cases in East Devon. (Owl’s personal view is that this is most informative Covid-19 tracking data in UK. It just seems to Owl be following the classic scientific approach, unlike many of the others.)


We are committed to sharing all our data and findings with our users, so we wanted to take the time to explain how and why these changes have been made and what that means in terms of the data.

Why change the model now? 

As with any scientific study, over time things change and develop, so it’s important to constantly be reviewing and updating how we are doing things to make sure we are giving our users the most accurate information.

For the last two months, we have been running the testing programme with the Department of Health and Social Care in England, which has seen more than 350,000 users being invited to take swab tests when they begin to feel unwell. Users then log results of the test into the app, helping us to build a better picture of what symptoms are related to a positive test. We have also been inviting users who previously tested positive to be retested so we could understand for how long they are COVID positive and exhibiting symptoms.

This new data, combined with all the other data our users have kindly shared with us (including 100million symptoms assessments) means we have a greater insight into COVID symptoms. As a result we have been able to improve our predictions on who is sick, and most importantly we know how long people are likely to still be infectious and therefore test positive to a swab test.

How do we calculate prevalence rates? 

Now that we have a better picture of how long it takes to recover from COVID, we have built a recovery model that tells us how many people recover within a specific number of days from symptom onset. For example, we observe that only 52.2% of people recover within 13 days.

We have combined this recovery model with our daily new cases model to produce our prediction of the number of daily active cases.

In a nutshell, prevalence is:

Yesterday’s active cases + today’s new cases – today’s recoveries = Number of active cases

We have run this formula from the start of our first testing programme (12th June) as we have large numbers of swab tests from this date. As a result we have a much more reliable estimate of daily active cases than we did before.

With this information, we have also recalibrated the prediction model of symptomatic cases to better understand the current levels of COVID in your area and updated the interactive map in data page. We will be separately estimating the numbers of people with long duration symptoms and updating our website with these figures. We want to emphasise that there are lots of people who continue to have symptoms long after they are no longer infectious – this is an area of huge importance, and one that our researchers are very keen to understand better with your help.

The introduction of this new model means that our prediction of prevalence has fallen significantly, because in the last few weeks our previous prevalence estimates included those people who are long term sufferers. These individuals are no longer in the prevalence figures and instead we will be reporting on them separately. It is also important to recognise that we do not identify people who show no symptoms whatsoever (asymptomatic).

What do the latest figures show us? 

Our new prevalence figures show that 23,459 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID and highlight the big regional differences across the UK. While nations like Northern Ireland have almost no active cases, the rates for other English regions, like the Midlands, have been decreasing less steeply.

This estimate is in line with the latest ONS Infection survey in which 25,000 people in England were estimated to be infected with COVID-19 during the two week period that goes from the 14th to the 27th of June.

We will be continuing to update all the data on our data page: https://covid.joinzoe.com/data

We hope you found this blog informative and as always, we want to thank all our amazing users who make all this research and data possible!


Active case/million people 8 July

North Devon


East Devon




South Hams


Prevalence cases under the revised calculations (estimated)

Note: the population of East Devon (2018) was 144,317 so actual estimated symptomatic cases from this table equate to 70.

Additional notes:

[*] This analysis requires swab testing, which was kindly provided by the Department of Health and Social Care for England. As Scotland and Wales are not yet offering tests to app users, we provided indirect estimates using countrywide averages and wide confidence limits.  Testing is happening in Northern Ireland, but the number of participants is too few to generate an accurate estimate. These figures exclude care homes as there is not enough data from the app to estimate this population.

Millions of eligible voters may be missing from electoral registers, a Lords report has warned today.

LocalGov.co.uk – Your authority on UK local government – Millions of voters missing from electoral registers, report warns

Revision: [Owl should have linked this to this previous post]

Laura Sharman www.localgov.co.uk 

Millions of voters missing from electoral registers, report warns image


The report from the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 Committee finds the completeness of registers has not improved in the past seven years, which risks damaging the integrity of elections.

It calls on the Government to modernise registration by introducing ‘assisted registration’ to prompt eligible voters to register when accessing other public services and automatic registration for young people coming of age.

Lord Shutt of Greetland, the chair of the committee, said: ‘Millions of voters may still be missing from electoral registers. The Act has helped to make registers more accurate but they remain significantly incomplete. This is particularly the case with under-registered groups such as young people, frequent home movers, care home residents and people from BAME backgrounds. Incomplete registers can only be damaging to the integrity of elections. Urgent steps must be taken to address this.’

The report also argues local authorities should be compensated for the cost of registration activity during elections and ensure voter ID plans are implemented fairly.

Ailsa Irvine, director of electoral adminstration and guidance at the Electoral Commission, said: ‘Whilst positive reforms to the annual canvass in Great Britain are currently underway, further, more fundamental changes to the framework could make registration easier for everyone – particularly groups who are less likely to be registered, such as young people and private renters.’

Birds of a Feather will flock together – from an Eagle- Eyed Feathered Friend on GESP

“In response to an earlier post from a Correspondent commenting on the GESP and asking –

“Is the Watch readership so gobsmacked with this plan that there is a great silence (no comments posted so far) or are they happy that East Devon will take the lion’s share of the GESP growth?”

Your correspondent need not fear that the lack of birdsong from flocks of native species within the East Devon resident bird population in any way reflects any apathy or acceptance of such inappropriate development of our East Devon countryside that has been proposed in the recently published GESP Draft Policies and Site Options document.

Many of Owl’s feathered friends have chosen to settle in small, rural nesting places within East Devon and these bird populations remain territorial, watchful and perched in anticipation to defend their valued homes.

There has already been much tweeting, screeching, crowing, cawing, clucking and hooting in East Devon around the Clyst St Mary, Farringdon, Woodbury, Sowton, Clyst St George, Clyst Honiton and Aylesbeare areas concerning the indicative minimum number of homes (totalling around 17,000) plus substantially increased employment use on agricultural, green fields at Higher Greendale, Hill Barton, Oil Mill Lane and around the M5! This deafening, cacophonous sound of those defending their village environments and countryside must have reached the ears of those wise birds as far afield as Blackdown House, who are now sitting on strategic, high branches of control.

We are confident that the new breed of decision makers will protect our special rural environment from those predatory, vulture-like species, whose aim appears to be the total annihilation and destruction of our valued East Devon natural environment, primarily to feed their own self-sustenance. This raptorial flock (commonly known as “The Feather Their Own Nests Birds”) has already received suitable culling but their voracious, insatiable appetites have the potential to cause the ruination of many distinct, valued habitats throughout East Devon.

Hopefully those who hear this birdsong will listen and understand the significance of protecting our East Devon stunning countryside and idyllic villages because once our rural, green areas are subjected to build, build build – they are lost forever! 

 With a GESP public consultation due in September, we must ensure that birds of a feather will flock together to protect their special environment because their collective birdsong has the potential to be so momentous 

that it can effect change.

An Eagle-Eyed Feathered Friend “

Sky News Daily podcast: Dr Cathy Gardner gives a detailed account of why she seeks a Judicial Review

Sky News Daily podcast: Careless words from the PM on social care in England?

Although the interview with Cathy Gardner starts around 3 min 40 sec, it is worth listening to the whole podcast obviously prompted by the latest Boris Johnson comments.

Her crowdfunding site can be found here.


On this edition of the Sky News Daily podcast with Dermot Murnaghan, we examine the impact of Boris Johnson’s comments about care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are joined by Dr Cathy Gardner, whose elderly father died in a care home in Oxfordshire in April with suspected coronavirus.

We also speak to Age UK trustee Martin Jones about the challenges facing the sector, funding issues and creating a model for the future.

Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifySpreaker

Producer – Annie Joyce
Assistant producer – Sabah Choudhry

A Correspodent comments on the GESP

“Is the Watch readership so gobsmacked with this plan that there is a great silence (no comments posted so far) or are they happy that East Devon will take the lion’s share of the GESP growth?

As I have written before “Has not East Devon sacrificed enough Grade 1 agricultural land to build Cranbrook? Were we not told that this sacrifice would be EDDC’s contribution to housing need?” Now if this plan were to go through we would lose more such land.

The EDDC Local Plan and GESP are based on a jobs led scenario. In EDDC’s case this assumed the creation of 950 jobs a year. Since the start of the plan job creation has been around a quarter of that. Now, with the pandemic recession it will take years to get our jobs back to what they were at the start of the plan in 2013.

Our focus now should be on the economy and job creation opportunities. We do not need to plan any more houses until that has been achieved.

The only people to win if this goes ahead are the landowners.

I urge our Council to see sense and firmly reject the GESP”


Owl recalls that the referenced post mentioned the enthusiasm of Conservative Cllr Philip Skinner for a “network of linked villages being built in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon. (Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon).

Last October EDDC’s  Strategic Planning Committee  unanimously recommended to the Cabinet that East Devon supports the Exeter and East Devon garden communities status (part of another Exeter driven development scheme).

Cllr. Philip Skinner was appointed by “Independent” Leader, now Conservative ex-leader, Cllr Ben Ingham to lead strategic planning with Independent Cllr Susie Bond.


See response: “Birds of a Feather will flock together”

‘Super-spreader’ forces three businesses in Burnham-on-Sea to close just days after reopening

A single positive coronavirus case is believed to have caused the closure of three businesses after the man went out drinking on Super Saturday.

By Hayley Dixon 7 July 2020 www.telegraph.co.uk 

A pub, a vape bar and an Indian restaurant in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, all closed their doors for deep cleaning.

It is believed the unnamed drinker visited The Lighthouse Inn before heading to Vape Escape. A driver from Saagar Indian had also been in the pub, and the restaurant closed as a precaution.

The vape shop was able to reopen after performing a deep clean and testing staff, but The Lighthouse Inn remains closed while it awaits test results.

Jess Green, the pub’s manager, said: “The pub will not reopen until our seven staff have tested negative, and we should get the test results back today.”

“We’ve decided to close the pub to keep our staff and customers safe. We completed a full clean of the pub on Monday, in line with Government guidance, and so we could actually reopen. But we have proactively taken the decision to close, and we have received lots of positive feedback from the local community.

“The man who tested positive has done the right thing in informing the businesses that he attended so we can inform customers and get everyone tested.”

A post announcing the news was shared over 2,000 times, and received a flurry of support from the pub’s regulars.

The Saagar Indian has also put a notice in the window stating that it has closed temporarily as a precaution. On social media, the takeaway said one of its staff may have come into contact with the infected man.

The post said: “It saddens me to tell you all that, due to unforeseen circumstances, we are closing Saagar Indian takeaway up until Friday.

“This is because one of the drivers has been in the same pub as the person who has tested positive to Covid-19. This decision was not made easily. However, during these tough times everybody’s health is the number one priority.

“During this period we will be deep cleaning the whole building to ensure when it is reopened we will be ready to go. We look forward to seeing you all again very soon.”

Vape Escape was also visited by the man, but has already being able to reopen thanks to negative test results and a thorough deep clean.

Owner Leanne Underhill said: “It wasn’t the reopening we had planned, and we were informed on Sunday that a customer who had visited us had tested positive.

“All of our staff have been tested and have come back negative. All customers have been informed, in line with Government guidance. We have been following all the safety guidelines and, because we took the names and numbers of customers as they entered, all of them have been able to be contacted.

“As soon as I got the message about the positive test result on Sunday, I immediately closed the bar, locked up and spoke with the NHS and police who informed us of the correct steps, all of which we have followed.

“We have undertaken a full, deep clean and steam cleaned the premises and also disinfected everything, including all customer areas such as the toilets.”