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expert reaction to latest nowcast and forecast of COVID-19 from the MRC Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge

The MRC Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge have released their latest nowcast and forecast of COVID-19.


Prof Sheila Bird, Formerly Programme Leader, MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge, said:

“I’ve put together this table with data taken from today’s release by Birrell & de Angelis, which helps to summarize the regional heterogeneity in England.  The table compares median number of COVID-deaths on April 15 versus the forecast median regional number of COVID-deaths on 1 November 2020 (with uncertainty).  I’ve added a comment column which compares the respective medians.

“It remains too early for the reduction in infection-fatality-rate in the second wave to be demonstrably lower than in the first wave when the median was 0.9% (0.7% to 1.1%) versus currently estimated as 0.7% (0.5% to 0.9%).

“There has also been data this week (not from the MRC BSU) from Scotland – as we approach Scotland’s second wave, COVID-19 deaths are more than doubling fortnightly (running rate of 2.8 = {10+20+25+75}/{5+11+10+20}; compare yellow shading; also turquoise shading). Source:



“The rate of increase in Scotland’s 2nd wave is currently lower and slower in than March 2020, which is some comfort. But the bad news is that the autumn-rate in COVID-mention registered deaths has not yet started to abate. Moreover, Scotland’s average number of COVID-hospital admissions on 20th & 23rd March 2020 were 38.1 & 58.3 respectively, close to the most recent two weeks in Scotland: which is ominous unless due to earlier hospitalisation.

“For my comments on the England situation from the ONS stats on deaths yesterday, please see:”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


Declared interests

Prof Sheila Bird: “SMB is a former Programme leader at MRC Biostatistics Unit but was not involved with the nowcasting & forecasts released today by the team from MRC Biostatistics Unit.”

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