ENGLAND’S coronavirus R rate has fallen below to 1 for the first time since July, official government data has revealed.
The official figure – which represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid onto – is now between 0.7 and 0.9, Sage said today.
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It’s slightly lower than it was last week at 0.7 to 1.0, but is the first time it’s fallen below the crucial value since July 3, last year.
For the UK as a whole, it’s slightly higher at 0.7 to 1.0, but that’s also a drop om last week when it was estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.1.
The R rate is below 1 in every region of England and may even be as low as 0.6 in London and the South East, according to the latest report based on data up to February 1.
When the R is below 1, it means transmission is low and the epidemic is shrinking – but greater than that number suggests it’s growing.
It comes as:
The R rate peaked in the week of January 8, when it was between 1 and 1.4. It slowly rose from a low of 0.8 to 1 at the start of December.
A Sage spokesperson said: “These estimates are based on the latest data, available up to 1 February, including hospitalisations and deaths as well as symptomatic testing and prevalence studies.
“These estimates represent the transmission of Covid-19 over the past few weeks.
“However, as R is a lagging indicator, these estimates cannot account for the most recent policy changes, nor changes in transmission that have not yet been reflected in epidemiological data. “
The regional breakdown suggests the R is lowest in the capital with a range of 0.6 to 0.8, a drop from last week when it was slightly higher at 0.6 to 0.9.
Despite seeing falls, the North West and North East and Yorkshire are the areas estimated to have the highest R rate range.
In the North East and Yorkshire it fell from 0.8 – 1.1 last week to 0.8 – 1.0 this week, while in the North West the value dropped from 0.8 – 1.1 to 0.7 – 1.0.
The Midlands also saw a fall from 0.8 – 1.1 last week to 0.7 – 0.9 today, as did the South East from 0.7 – 0.9 last week to 0.6 – 0.9 today.
In the South West the R rate is also down from 0.8 – 1.1 to 0.7 – 0.9 today.
It’s stayed the same in the East of England at 0.7 to 0.9.
What does R rate mean?
R0, or R nought, refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.
For example, if a virus has an R0 of three, it means that every sick person will pass the disease on to three other people if no containment measures are introduced.
Scientists use it to predict how far and how fast a disease will spread – and the number can also inform policy decisions about how to contain an outbreak.
It’s also worth pointing out that the R0 is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly
Sage also estimates the growth rate, which reflects how quickly the number of infections are changing, is now between -5 per cent and -2 per cent.
It means the number of new infections is shrinking by up to five per cent every day.
Last week Sage reported the growth rate was between -5 per cent and 0, so it suggests things are heading in the right direction.
The announcement from Sage comes after experts behind the ZOE Symptom Tracker app revealed that the R rate was at 0.9 across the UK.
Data from the ZOE study suggests that the R rate is highest in the East Midlands – with a value of 1.0.
The experts stated that the R rate across all regions are more similar than they have been in many months.
Figures from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app today revealed that cases have plummeted 70 per cent since the peak at the beginning of the New Year.
SLOW IN CASES
Figures show that around 1 in 170 people across the UK have symptomatic Covid.
The experts stated that since the peak of 69,000 daily new cases on January 1, cases have dropped by 70 per cent.
At present there are 20,360 daily new symptomatic cases in the UK in comparison to 28,645 last week.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also released this afternoon revealed that while the number of people testing positive for the virus has dropped – cases numbers still remain high.
It stated that around one in 70 people currently have Covid-19 in England.
Figures from the ONS account for the week ending January 30 and show that 846,900 people in England had the coronavirus.
The report the week before stated that 1,018,700 had the virus.
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The lead of the ZOE Symptom Tracker app, Professor Tim Spector said while cases are dropping, now is not the time for hesitancy.
He said: “We are making good progress against this virus, with 10 million vaccinations done and cases down by 70 per cent since the peak at the beginning of the year.
“On top of that, we are also seeing hospital admissions from Covid drop too. But it’s not the time for hesitancy.
“We’re now at the same levels of new cases we were when we came out of lockdown at the end of November, with the difference being our NHS is overstretched and death rates are still high. Importantly, we still need to give the vaccines a few more weeks to take effect and drive cases lower.”