The third report from the country’s largest study on coronavirus rates of infection has been published today showing that cases are increasing steadily across the country.

The study examines levels of infection in the general population in England.

This The latest findings for the period between 22 August and 7 September – testing more than 150,000 volunteers – indicate cases were doubling every 7 to 8 days. It is estimated 13 people per 10,000 were infected in England, compared with 4 people per 10,000 between 24 July and 11 August 2020.

COVID-19 cases are shown as no longer clustering in healthcare or care home settings, as seen in May and June, suggesting the virus is now spread more widely in the community. Infections are increasing across all adult age groups below the age of 65 years and across all areas of the country, with higher rates seen in young people aged 18 to 24 years. Infection is highest in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and the North West.

The latest findings from Imperial are published today at the same time as the government’s official weekly R rate. The R rate published by Imperial has been estimated based on a cohort of 150,000 volunteers within a specific timeframe. The weekly official government R rate is produced by SAGE and uses many data sources and models to produce a consensus view in the scientific community of the likely R number over a longer timeframe.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said:

Our large and robust dataset clearly shows a concerning trend in coronavirus infections, where cases are growing quickly across England and are no longer concentrated in key workers. What we are seeing is evidence of an epidemic in the community and not a result of increased testing capacity. This is a critical time and it’s vital that the public, our health system and policymakers are aware of the situation as we cannot afford complacency.


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