NIESR Covid-19 Tracker: Reproduction Number (R) and Forecasts of New Cases: Back to School - Moderate Rise in New Cases Forecast

Publication date: 9 Sep 2021 | Publication type: NIESR Covid-19 Tracker | NIESR Author(s): Thamotheram, C

Main Points

  • We resume our bi-weekly series, reporting R estimates and forecasts of new cases and hospital admissions for England and Scotland, after a short summer break. Figure 1 compares our August 12th forecasts of new cases with actual cases for England in the following 4 weeks. This underscores the accuracy of our forecasting method during periods when environmental factors that affect transmission are relatively stable. Similar performance was found in earlier research after the first lockdown.
  • Across nations and regions, the R number remains slightly above 1 apart from the SouthWest where it is slightly below 1 (Figure 2).
  • We forecast modest increases of new Covid-19 cases for all English regions other than South-West (Figure 3). A moderate increase in new Covid-19 cases can be expected for England, and for Scotland (Figure 4).
  • Hospital admissions are forecast to increase slightly, just crossing the 1000-per-day mark in the coming week (Figure 5). The rate of increase of hospital admissions can be expected to be lower than the rate of increase of new cases.
  • In aggregate, the proportion of those over 16 who have received their first dose is 89 per cent with 80 per cent also receiving their second dose. This summary figure conceals important heterogeneity across age brackets as shown in Figure 6. Importantly, for those under 30 less than 50 per cent are currently fully vaccinated.

“Looking back, our forecasts of new cases for England from 4 weeks ago have performed well (Figure 1). This was during a period when environmental factors that affect transmission have remained relatively constant. We found similar performance in our previous research during the first lock-down. However, as schools return and transmission conditions change, we can expect to see an increase in cases in England due to the increased testing in schools as was observed in Scotland through the last half of August. It is reassuring that whilst trend new cases have remained high, hospital admissions due to Covid-19 have remained around 1000 per day and are only forecast to increase modestly over the next few weeks.”

Dr Craig Thamotheram
Senior Economist - Macroeconomic Modelling and Forecasting