At a critical point in the evolution of the current wave of Covid infection in England (following the data hour by hour), we have the disruption to consistent reporting caused by the holidays coupled with constraints on testing, including PCR.
Owl picks out two observations about trends from the Zoe Covid study:
“The number of daily new symptomatic COVID cases are more than double what they were this time last year and we are just a day or two away from hitting over 200,000. However, the exponential growth in cases appears to have stopped, and the rise is more steady. Hospitalisation rates are thankfully much lower than this time last year, but they are still high, especially in London.”
“The rise in cases appears to be slowing in the 0-55 age groups. Cases are rising sharply in the 55-75 age groups, which is worrying given this group is more at risk of hospitalisation.”
According to ZOE COVID Study incidence figures, in total there are currently 192,290 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on PCR and LFT test data from up to three days ago [*]. An increase of 33% from 144,284 reported last week (Graph 1).
In the vaccinated population (at least two doses) there are currently 78,748 new daily symptomatic cases in the UK. An increase of 40% from 56,346 new daily cases reported last week (Graph 2).
The UK R value is estimated to be around 1.2 and regional R values are; England, 1.2, Wales, 1.1, Scotland, 1.1 (Table 1).
In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 32 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID. In the regions, England, 1 in 30. Wales, 1 in 41. Scotland, 1 in 51. In London, 1 in 16 have symptomatic COVID (Table 1).
Cases are rising in all regions, particularly in the North West, which has a R value of 1.3. However, cases continue to be higher in London than any other region (Graph 4).
The rise in cases appears to be slowing in the 0-55 age groups. Cases are rising sharply in the 55-75 age groups, which is worrying given this group is more at risk of hospitalisation (Graph 3).
According to the data, ZOE estimates that 75% of people experiencing new cold-like symptoms are likely to have symptomatic COVID-19. This number has increased since last week, as the data is now showing a fall in the number of non-COVID ‘colds’ and a continued rise in symptomatic COVID infections (Graph 5).
The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around 840,000 weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 67,687 recent swab tests done in the two weeks up to 27th December 2021.
Dr Claire Steves, scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app and Reader at King’s College London comments on the latest data:
“The number of daily new symptomatic COVID cases are more than double what they were this time last year and we are just a day or two away from hitting over 200,000. However, the exponential growth in cases appears to have stopped, and the rise is more steady. Hospitalisation rates are thankfully much lower than this time last year, but they are still high, especially in London. The ZOE data is showing that cases are still on the rise in 55-75 year olds so unfortunately it’s likely that this will translate into more hospital admissions in the New Year.
It’s good news to see that fewer people are newly sick than a few weeks ago. However, the fact that 75% of new cold-like symptoms are COVID, and the classic symptoms are much less common, means the Government advice needs to be urgently updated. We want to see symptoms like sore throat, headache, and runny nose added to the list as soon as possible.
Looking ahead to 2022, the strategy should be about focusing on maximising our immunity, across the generations, across all sections of society and across the world. Let’s be clear, this is a global pandemic so we need to be looking at other countries and helping vaccination programs everywhere to increase global immunity levels and help reduce the risk of future variants.”
Graph 1. The ZOE COVID Study UK incidence figures total number of daily new cases over time.
Graph 2. The ZOE COVID Study UK incidence figures results over time; total number of new cases and new cases in fully vaccinated
Graph 3. Incidence by age group
Graph 4. Prevalence rate by region
Graph 5. Comparison of new onset of cold-like illness and new onset of COVID with respiratory symptoms
Table 1. Incidence (daily new symptomatic cases)[*], R values and prevalence regional breakdown table
Map of UK prevalence figures