Tag Archives: covid-19

Early Warning Onwards

The UK government stated yesterday (13 May) that rising case numbers in the Bolton area were a cause for concern, and that very many of these cases were of the so-called ‘Indian’ variant (B.1.617.2 being the designated variant of concern, with B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.3 under investigation). Here, raw data for case numbers has been available for weeks, with  organisations such as the Sanger Institute also providing a very informative breakdown by sequenced  variants.

Our analytics platform had identified Bolton and other areas as potential concerns more than two weeks ago and had flagged a correlation between these hot spots and the ethnic balance of the local population, such that, even in the absence of cross-border travel data, of the emerging variants or the situation in India, we were able to provide early warning of emerging problems.

Which very much begs the question as to why the UK government only raised this yesterday, and why travel restrictions from India were only imposed long after the pandemic reached critical mass there. Continue reading Early Warning Onwards

The Last Unknown?

A remaining big unknown in the pandemic is not whether vaccines reduce serious symptoms, hospital admissions and deaths – they do – but whether and to what degree vaccines reduce the ability of those vaccinated to infect others, whilst not being symptomatic themselves. As we've noted before, initial data on post-vaccination infectivity was somewhat contradictory, so we don't yet build the impact of vaccination on infectivity into our forecasting.

Continue reading The Last Unknown?

Late to the Party. Again.

SAGE announced today that England's R number has risen across to between 0.8 and 1. They update their pronouncements once a week, based on their modelling from data that's even further behind.

We take a different approach: we use emergent and inferential analysis to generate R number calculations and 28-day forecasts, on a daily basis, for every local authority in the UK.

We can say that England, as of today, is at an R number of around 0.92, up from a low of 0.80 on 19 April. Our forecasting suggests that it's going to go over 1.0 from tomorrow, reaching roughly 1.3 by the end of the month, with England leading the way, followed by Wales and Northern Ireland, with Scotland doing rather better, for the moment at least.

2021-04-23 R Number and forecast for England

Continue reading Late to the Party. Again.

Raining on the Parade?

The time to relax lockdown is once you have a combination of low case numbers (check), an R (infectivity) number that’s well below 1 and trending downwards, and have effectively stamped on any potential hot spots around the country, to the point where the increased travel between areas that we're already seeing doesn't risk a spread from those hot spot areas acting as reservoirs of reinfection.

And this does not look like that time. Yes, case numbers are low (rolling weekly rate/100k population across the UK is around 26), but… Continue reading Raining on the Parade?

The (Long and Winding) Road to Normal

We all want a normal life. And politicians feel the pressure from their parties and constituents to restore normality as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, there's a dissonance between their reluctance to then take needful and decisive action at the earliest possible opportunity and the long-term consequences from the pandemic, where a tendency to treat the pandemic as transactional – something you can bargain with – has driven a patchwork, limited and often counterproductive response to the pandemic. Continue reading The (Long and Winding) Road to Normal

Proving a Point?

There’s been a lot of covoptimism this past week, from assorted government spokesfolks, including from people who do know what they’re talking about – a prime example being Prof. Neil Ferguson of Imperial. The theme here is that cases, case rates and the R number have been falling strongly and appear to be continuing to do so.

That’s true, to a point. But our modelling suggests that the immediate future is less rosy.

It's not about the data – we use the same published sources as the government, albeit that they've got access to more sources than we do – it's more about what you do with it. 

Continue reading Proving a Point?

Building a Better Crystal Ball

Another Friday update: we’re well into our private Beta of our predictive analytics and what-if? modelling system for Covid-19 analytics.

So what is it telling us today?

As of 3rd February our projections are (within their confidence limits, which of course become broader the further out we look, even if the central projection is tracking the reality curve well), that the R number bottoms out about now for the UK as a whole, with case numbers continuing to fall until around the 9th, by which time R number is back to .92 and, by the 13th, it's more likely to be above 1 again, mostly driven by the SE (Essex particularly) and Merseyside (see header picture).

Continue reading Building a Better Crystal Ball

Lagging Decisions, Big Consequences?

On Friday 29th January, the Scottish Government announced that Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles) is being put into Level 4 lockdown, following a surge of new cases.

On the basis of the data available to us and our modelling approach, we're not convinced about this decision: it appears to have be made on the basis of out-of-date analysis in an area which turned the corner on this outbreak some time ago.

Our emergent analytics, which generate fresh outlooks every day, suggest that the peak of the outbreak here was passed on 19th January and that it has declined, on multiple metrics, since then.

Continue reading Lagging Decisions, Big Consequences?

Kinetics of a Pandemic

We’ve been thinking for some time about how best to present the dynamic of the pandemic in a way that actually shows what's happening – the R number doesn't give any idea of magnitude and is - in our opinion – best kept behind the scenes as a contributor to analytic models, raw or compensated case numbers are just that – daily records – shocking enough in themselves but they still don't show the energy in the thing. Continue reading Kinetics of a Pandemic

Animating the UK

Over the last few months, we have been using advanced  data intelligence to improve the sourcing, timeliness and validation of Covid-19 statistics. We then use our emergent and adaptive platform to provide high quality predictive modelling of its likely progress.

Human nature being what it is, people have become somewhat desensitised to raw numbers and to the differences between the first surge of the virus in March-May and where we are now, despite that difference being genuinely scary, as any front line medic will confirm, if they still have the energy. So anything that helps communicate the current situation more effectively can only help – this is one of our alpha stage experiments, animating the rolling case rate per 100,000 population for the UK, from March 12 2020 to January 5 2021.

Continue reading Animating the UK