COVID cases flattening according to COVID Symptom Study Infection Survey

October 1, 2020

According to the COVID Symptom Study (CSS) UK Infection Survey figures, there are currently, 19,777 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 27 September (excluding care homes). This figure is based on the number of newly symptomatic app users per day, and the proportion of these who give positive swab tests. The latest figures were based on the data from 8,377 swab tests done between 13 September to 27 September.

This week’s data shows that the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the UK has flattened across the UK in the last four days, with the highest numbers still in the North of England suggesting that the situation is slowing down. The CSS Infection Survey found that almost twice as many people under 30 were reporting positive tests (0.49%) compared to the prevalence rate for people above or equal to 30 (0.26%). This higher level of cases in younger people could explain why there is currently less pressure on the NHS compared to the first wave.

The CSS UK Infection Survey R values for the UK are; England 1.2, Scotland 1.3 and Wales 1.4. These R values have fallen since last week which reflects the slowing down of new cases being observed.  

Although new cases may be not rising, we estimate that 230,966 people currently have symptomatic COVID in the UK (prevalent disease), This figure does not include long term COVID sufferers.

The CSS UK Infection Survey has been running since early May when the COVID Symptom Study commenced its daily swab testing programme provided by the Department of Health and Social Care and has so far recorded over a million swab results from app users. The CCS UK Infection Survey estimates the number of current COVID-19 positive cases in the community based on the information logged by users in the app and the results from the swab testing programme.

It identifies differences in numbers within the regions throughout the UK, and tracks the change in estimated cases over time. It is the largest survey of its kind in the UK, bigger than the ONS’s COVID-19 Infection Survey and the research conducted by Imperial College London.

The COVID Symptom Study app is a not-for-profit initiative that was launched at the end of March 2020 to support vital COVID-19 research. The app was launched by health science company ZOE with scientific analysis provided by King’s College London. With 4 million contributors globally, the Study is the world’s largest ongoing study of COVID-19.

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London, comments:

“We are confident that this flattening in the data looks real and that this might be an early sign of infection rates slowing down. This may be due to a number of factors including social distancing and the “rule of six”, but we can’t discount the role of less susceptible people and prior immunity in those exposed and the natural cycle of the virus. We are seeing nearly 50% of our cases are coming from the under 30s, which is more than in the spring, which may explain why the pressures on the NHS are less. We still need to continue to work together to make sure this flattening off isn’t a small blip. As we head into winter we all need to be cautious and pay attention to the advice we are being given around local restrictions, social distancing and avoiding gathering in large groups. ”


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