Don't cancel Christmas yet

November 18, 2021

This article has not been updated recently

According to ZOE COVID Study incidence figures, in total there are currently  65,059 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on PCR and LFT test data from up to five days ago [*]. A decrease of 10% from 72,546 new daily cases last week. 

In the vaccinated population (at least two doses) cases have leveled off and it’s estimated there are currently 22,482 new daily symptomatic cases in the UK. A decrease of 9% from  24,766 new daily cases last week (Graph 1). 

The UK R value is estimated to be around 0.9 and regional R values are; England, 0.9, Wales, 0.9, Scotland, 1.0 (Table 1). 

In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 67 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID. In the regions, England, 1 in 67. Wales,1 in 53. Scotland, 1 in 86. (Table 1). 

The number of daily new cases among 0-17 year olds, which was rapidly declining in recent weeks, has suddenly turned, with cases now showing signs of an uptick. Cases in age groups between 18 -74 have levelled off. Whereas cases among those over 75 are now declining (Graph 2).

Prevalence is coming down in all regions of the UK, apart from Scotland where cases have leveled off with an R value of 1.0 (Graph 3). 

ZOE’s predicted Long COVID incidence rate currently estimates, at current case rates, 1,143 people a day will go on to experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks. This number continues to fall in line with the overall incidence figures (Graph 4). 

The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around 750,000 thousand weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 40,442 recent swab tests done between 30 October and 13 November 2021. 

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, comments on the latest data:
“According to the ZOE data, the steep drop in cases over the last two weeks has now slowed but remains at very high rates, affecting one in 67 people. In terms of what it means for Christmas, I’m cautiously optimistic for the remainder of the year. It’s becoming clear that children and the school holidays play a key role in the waves of infection. I think it’s safe to say that we can expect to see another rise in the new year after the holidays. 
There’s a long road ahead and I think we’ll be dealing with COVID for the next five years, so it’s important we have a strategy that looks much further ahead and not just to save Christmas. While cases are high we should encourage healthy behaviours such as working more from home when possible and self-isolation with all symptoms, including coughs and sneezes. Mask wearing in high risk areas also plays an important role. However, the most important thing we can all do is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. The latest evidence from the UK and Europe shows that two doses is not enough, and we need to redefine fully vaccinated as three doses to protect us all from Delta and the inevitable new variants of COVID yet to come.”

Graph 1. The ZOE COVID Study UK incidence figures results over time; total number of new cases and new cases in fully vaccinated

Graph 2. Incidence by age group 

Graph 3. Prevalence rate by region

Graph 4. Predicted Long COVID incidence over time

Please refer to the publication by Thompson at al. (2021) for details on how long covid rates in the population are modelled

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

Map of UK prevalence figures

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