Rates level off but not a cause for concern

February 26, 2021

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study UK Infection Survey figures, there are currently 9,545 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 a similar number (9,242) a week ago, but down from a peak of 69,000 at the beginning of the year. In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 416 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID. (Full table of regional results below)

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

  • The UK R value is between 0.9 - 1.0
  • Regional R values are: England, 1.0, Wales, 0.9, Scotland, 1.1 
  • All the R values are now between 0.8-1.1 meaning the number of daily new cases has begun to plateau (full table of R values below)
  • The average rate of prevalence for symptomatic disease  across the UK is 1 in 416
  • Rates continue to fall in the over 80s, falling to very low rates (see graph below)
  • Most cases are in the 20-50 yr old groups

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 11,858 recent swab tests done between 14 February to 21 February 2021.

REVISED NUMBERS. Please note that this week the data scientists at ZOE made some changes to the way COVID-19 incidence rates are calculated and what initiates a COVID test invite, to account for reports of vaccination symptoms. This means that the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app estimates of COVID-19 incidence across the UK have decreased slightly.

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:
“The data over the last few weeks shows that the daily new cases have started to plateau at just under 10k cases but this isn’t reason to panic. The key metric isn’t just the total number of cases, which is mainly among people of working age. We need to focus on the pressure on the NHS and the number of admissions and deaths, which are both still falling rapidly. We are in a similar situation to late May last year, just before restrictions were lifted but the difference this time is, while the variants may be more infectious, we have a vaccine that works and the older age groups are largely protected. Having some residual infections in the population is inevitable for a while and although we want to push it lower, it shouldn't be a major cause for concern. With decisions now being made on data rather than dates, it feels like we on track to lift restrictions sooner rather than later.”

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


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