Rapid drop in cases slows down

February 19, 2021

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures, there are currently 14,064 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on swab tests data from up to five days ago [*]. This compares to 14,818 daily new symptomatic cases a week ago, a decrease of 5%. Since the peak of 69,000 daily new cases around the 1st January, cases have fallen by around 80%. (Full table of regional results below). In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 294 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID.

Other key findings from ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey this week: 

  • The UK R value is 0.9
  • Regional R values are: England, 0.9, Wales, 1.0, Scotland, 1.0 
  • The fall in daily new cases has begun to slow with R values moving back towards 1.0 with most regions at 0.9 (full table of R values below)
  • The average rate of prevalence for symptomatic disease  across the UK is 1 in 294
  • The highest risk areas in the UK are currently, Lancashire, Blackpool, and Blackburn with Darwen (1 in 277), Greater Manchester (1 in 287) and Liverpool City Region (1 in 337) (full tables of results below)
  • Cases have started to rise in age groups between 20-39, cases continue to fall in the most at risk age groups 60+ (see graph below)

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures are based on around one million weekly reporters and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 14,875 recent swab tests done between 31 January to 14 February 2021.

Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data:
“Although daily new cases have fallen steadily for 6 consecutive weeks in the UK, in the last few days the rate of decrease has plateaued. This is mainly true in places like Scotland, Wales and the Midlands compared to London and the East. It’s unclear why this is happening, although people relaxing their guard after vaccination or altering behaviour in the cold weather are possible. But it’s encouraging that COVID-related hospital admissions are still falling and much lower than at the peak. With cases still falling in the at-risk age groups and the vaccination roll out continuing there is still reason to be hopeful - but we clearly can’t be complacent. 
This week, we published research that showed that the classic three COVID symptoms of cough, fever and anosmia misses a significant proportion of positive cases. We are pushing for the list to be expanded to help us pick up more cases and drive down the number of cases. It’s also important for any new variants that may cause different symptoms. For us, the message for the public is clear: if you’re feeling newly unwell, it could be COVID and you should get a test.” 


There are four different sources of data on COVID-19 in the UK, ZOE, ONS, REACT and confirmed cases. The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey reports on the number of daily new symptomatic cases (incidence). 

All four sources have a vital role to play in monitoring COVID-19 in the UK and providing regular updates . The ZOE CSS reports on daily new cases, which gives an up-to-date view of the infection trends as reported by all those who participate in the app. The REACT 1 study measures prevalence of infection and gives an estimate of R across a two-week period each month, from randomly sampling the population to identify cases in the community. Whereas the ONS’s Covid Infection Survey measures positivity rates in a form similar to prevalence, providing weekly updates on households it tracks over time. So all studies are measuring slightly different data but all have an essential role to play. When the data is compared the overarching trend in the studies align and are roughly reporting the same picture. See graphs below for direct comparison. 


Worst affected region in England:


Incidence / Daily new symptomatic cases regional breakdown [*] 



The ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey results over time for the UK

Table of R Values

Map of UK prevalence figures

Estimated rate of people with Symptomatic COVID across age groups


Text Link
Discover more
about your health
Visit the ZOE Health Academy to learn more about your unique biology.
Learn more

Other updates

Sign up to get the latest research first, direct to your inbox.

Close

Get in touch

Please complete the reCAPTCHA and try again

Thank you

Your submission has been received
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.