Latest interim findings from COVID-19 study published

  • over 85,000 volunteers tested in England in latest significant study into COVID-19 by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI
  • interim findings show infections continued to rise across all regions between 16 and 25 October, with 128 people per 10,000 infected
  • figures reinforce the need for everyone to follow their local COVID alert level rules and remember ‘Hands. Face. Space’

Interim results from the sixth report of one of the country’s largest studies into COVID-19 infections in England have been published today by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.

Over 85,000 volunteers were tested in England between 16 and 25 October as part of a new REACT study, to examine the levels of infection in the general population. The findings show infections continue to rise across all age groups and all regions in England, with the biggest increase in those aged 55 to 64. The highest number of infections remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, where overall prevalence has more than doubled.

The main findings from the sixth Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study show that between 16 and 25 October:

  • 128 people per 10,000 were infected in England, up from 60 per 10,000
  • the virus was doubling every 9 days
  • the national R rate increased to 1.6
  • prevalence was highest in Yorkshire and the Humber (2.7% up from 0.84%) and the North West (2.3% up from 1.2%) meaning over 1 in 40 people were infected in Yorkshire and the Humber region as of Sunday 25 October
  • the percentage of people infected aged 55 to 64 increased more than threefold from 0.37% to 1.2%, but infections remain highest in those aged 18 to 24 (2.2%).

Professor Paul Elliott, Director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said:

These interim findings paint a concerning picture of the situation in England, where we’re seeing a nation-wide increase in infection prevalence, which we know will lead to more hospitalisations and loss of life.

We’re also detecting early signs that areas which previously had low rates of infection are following trends observed in the country’s worst-affected areas.

Now more than ever we must all work together to curb further spread of the virus and avoid subsequent overwhelming of the health service.

This report is the latest from the REACT study which was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and carried out by a world-class team of scientists, clinicians and researchers at Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Ipsos MORI.

As infection levels continue to rise across England, it is critical everyone plays their part to help stop the spread of the virus so together we can protect lives and our NHS, and prevent greater economic damage in the future.

Everyone must follow the local COVID alert level rules where they live, including those on household mixing. It is vital to remember ‘Hands. Face. Space’ and if you develop symptoms you must self-isolate, along with your household, and get a free test.

Cases are not evenly spread, with infection rates rising more rapidly in some areas than others. Our strategy is to suppress the virus while supporting the economy, education and the NHS, until an effective vaccine is widely available. Local action is at the centre of our response, and engagement with Local Authorities is, and will continue to be, a key part of this process.

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director, Public Affairs at Ipsos MORI said:

The continuing support of the public by taking part in the study is something we remain immensely grateful for. The number of participants gives this study the robustness and thoroughness which marks it out as world leading. Ipsos MORI would like to thank everyone who’s volunteered so far and those who will volunteer for further rounds of this study.

Summary of findings

Findings from over 85,000 volunteers between 16 October and 25 October:

  • overall prevalence of infection in the community in England was 1.28% or 128 people per 10,000 infected
  • using the most recent data, the virus was doubling every 9 days
  • the reproduction number R has increased to 1.6
  • out of 85,971 results, 863 were positive
  • prevalence of infection was highest in the North West (2.3%), Yorkshire and the Humber (2.7%), North East (1.2%), East Midlands (1.2% ), West Midlands (1.6% ), London (0.89%), South East (0.55%), East of England (0.64%), South West (0.72%)
  • clustering of cases is more prevalent in Lancashire, Manchester, Liverpool and West Yorkshire, West Midlands and East Midlands
  • nationally, prevalence increased across all age groups with the greatest increase in those aged 55 to 64 (1.2%)
  • in those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81%. Prevalence remains highest in 18 to 24 year olds at 2.2%
  • prevalence is increasing in primary- and secondary-aged children

Read the report published for pre-print.

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