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expert reaction to latest stats from the ONS COVID-19 Infection Survey, UK: 21 October 2022

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), have released the latest data from their COVID-19 Infection Survey.


Prof Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, said:

“The headline from this week’s Covid-19 survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is that cases continue to increase in the UK and now number approximately 2 million. Beneath that headline, however, the data are more encouraging.

“The rate of increase continues to slow, a signal that the wave is no longer growing exponentially and may be beginning to peak. This week’s data on symptoms data from the ZOE app suggest cases are starting to fall. ONS data tend to track ZOE data with a lag of about 2 weeks.

“The ONS data suggest that cases are flat or falling in 5 of 9 English regions and in Scotland and Northern Ireland (though not Wales).

“Cases are also falling in most age groups, the main exception being the 50-69 year olds; almost 1 in 25 in this age group were infected on October 10th. It is encouraging that prevalence is starting to fall in the over 70s – this should be mirrored in hospitalisations in the next week or two. Prevalence remains lowest in young and school-aged children, confirming that the return to school is not the driver of Covid-19 waves.

“All in all, it appears that the current wave is peaking, and may already have peaked, at a lower level than previous waves this year. It is, however, difficult to know whether or when there will be further waves, not least because we cannot predict the appearance of new variants. High-quality surveillance of cases and of variants is essential for assessing the likely impact of Covid-19 on the NHS and on our day-to-day lives through the coming winter.”



Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: 21 October 2022



Declared interests

Prof Mark Woolhouse is author of a book on the pandemic response.

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