Press Release: NIESR new weekly Covid-19 tracker - The effect of school openings yet to be seen

Published: 11th March 2021

Figure 2 - UK forecast of new COVID-19 cases

Main points

  • The NIESR estimates use a new time series model to project new cases of Covid-19 and produce timely estimates of the R number.  In addition, we also produce forecasts of hospital admissions and deaths due to Covid-19. The forecasts reported here were made using publicly available data on 9th March 2021.
  • Figure 1 shows that the Reproduction number, R, which is the average number of secondary infections currently generated by an infected individual, moved up to 0.85 – 0.95 by 8th March from a range of 0.75 – 0.85 where it had been the week before.
  • Based on our model, by 12th April when non-essential retail is scheduled to reopen, we expect trend daily cases to be around 900, admissions around 100 and deaths below 50 (Figures 2-4). Relative to last week, this represents a marginal upward revision for cases of 200 and downward of 100 for admissions with deaths still below 50.
  • To the extent that the re-opening increases transmission these numbers are likely to increase. On the other hand, these numbers could decrease to the extent that the vaccination programme reduces transmission. It will be interesting to see which of these effects dominate in the subsequent data.

Figure 5 shows that all regional R number estimates below one. Currently, the South East has the lowest R number while Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and the Humber again have the highest

Dr Craig Thamotheram, Senior Economist - Macroeconomic Modelling and Forecasting, said: According to the latest data on new cases, our work shows an R number for the UK in the range 0.85 – 0.95, taking it slightly above the range it has been from mid-January. This is based on data up to 9th March 2021, the day after the schools were reopened. In the period ahead, contacts and hence transmission can be expected to increase and our forecasts for daily cases is likely to pick up the effects of school reopening in about one to two weeks. Looking back, in combination with the prevailing lock down our forecasts for admissions and deaths have adapted to factor in the efficacy of the vaccine in limiting admissions and deaths. Looking forward, the key will be the trade-off between increases in transmission due to schools reopening and the continued reduction in admissions and deaths to be expected as the vaccination roll out proceeds at pace.”

Please find the full analysis in the document attached

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Notes for editors:

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