NIESR Weekly Covid-19 Tracker: Reproduction Number (R) and Forecasts of New Cases: The effect of school openings yet to be seen

Publication date: 11 Mar 2021 | Publication type: NIESR Weekly Covid-19 Tracker | NIESR Author(s): Thamotheram, C Issue 4

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 
11th March 2021