Third doses can save Christmas

November 25, 2021

According to ZOE COVID Study incidence figures, in total there are currently   76,728 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average, based on PCR and LFT test data from up to five days ago [*]. An increase of 18% from 65,059 new daily cases last week. 

In the vaccinated population (at least two doses) cases have leveled off and it’s estimated there are currently 24,219 new daily symptomatic cases in the UK. An increase of 8% from  22,482 new daily cases last week (Graph 1). 

The UK R value is estimated to be around 1.1 and regional R values are; England, 1.1, Wales, 1.1, Scotland, 1.0 (Table 1). 

In terms of prevalence, on average 1 in 66 people in the UK currently have symptomatic COVID. In the regions, England, 1 in 66. Wales,1 in 51. Scotland, 1 in 81. (Table 1). 

The number of daily new cases among 0-17 year olds is now rapidly rising and is the main driver of the bounce back in overall numbers. The rise in cases is also being seen in the 35-55 age group. There has been no uptick in cases in the over 55s, likely due in part to the third dose (booster) vaccines giving this group better protection. (Graph 2).

Case numbers are rising generally across the UK, particularly in regions of England including the Midlands, North West, and the East of England (Graph 3),  while rates are highest in Wales and lowest in Scotland. 

ZOE’s predicted Long COVID incidence rate currently estimates, at current case rates, 1,268 people a day will go on to experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks. (Graph 4). 

The ZOE COVID Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around 750,000 weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests. The latest survey figures were based on data from 40,707 recent swab tests done in the two weeks up to 20 November 2021. 

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, comments on the latest data:

“Seeing cases on the rise again is really disheartening and the recent ups and downs, unlike previous waves, is making it hard to predict where things will be from week-to-week. However, for me, the message is that cases are still far too high. Although we  appear, for now, to be faring better than some European countries in terms of case numbers, the UK continues to have relatively high hospital admissions and deaths, which is a real cause for concern. Given the current overloading of our hospitals, now isn’t the time to portray the UK as a COVID success story, far from it. Whilst the rise in new cases is being driven by children, focusing on them in the short-term would be a mistake. While the government is unlikely to enforce restrictions for Christmas, family gatherings will undoubtedly increase risk, especially for older and more vulnerable family members who haven’t yet had their third vaccine dose. Saving Christmas is up to us. Those of us eligible for the third jab should take it now, and we should be mindful that one in four people with cold-like symptoms have COVID-19. Consider the risks and keep your family out of hospital over the holidays.”

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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