Starting next year, UK will stop publishing COVID modelling data as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says is “no longer necessary”.
Since the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that emerged in late 2019 and has since become a global pandemic, public health authorities have modeled data in order to understand the dynamics of the outbreak and make informed decisions about how to respond. A key parameter is the reproduction number, also known as the R number, a measure of how many people an infected person is expected to infect, on average, in a population where everyone is susceptible to the disease. The R range and growth rate for England was first published in May 2020, weekly during the height of the pandemic, and fortnightly since April 2022. The next publication on January 6 “will be the last”.
“During the pandemic, the R value and growth rate served as a useful and simple indicator to inform public health action and government decisions. Now that vaccines and therapeutics have allowed us to move to a phase where we are living with COVID-19, with surveillance scaled down but still closely monitored through a number of different indicators, the publication of this specific data is no longer necessary,” UK Health Security Agency Chief Data Scientist Nick Watkins said in a statement.
“We continue to monitor COVID-19 activity in a similar way to how we monitor a number of other common illnesses and diseases. All data publications are kept under constant review and this modelling data can be reintroduced promptly if needed, for example, if a new variant of concern was to be identified,” he added.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 incidence data will still be available from the Office for National Statistics infection survey.