From this week, UKHSA will take on responsibility for modelling and publishing the government’s estimates of the R value and growth rate.
There will be no meaningful change to either the modelling or publication of this data.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will use an almost identical process to that used by SPI-M to model the R value and growth rates for England, NHS regions and the devolved administrations with individual SPI-M groups continuing to support and contribute to the modelling.
The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person, while the growth rate reflects how quickly the numbers of infections are changing day by day. Together they help scientists and the public understand the spread of the disease.
These metrics will be consolidated into UKHSA’s existing analysis to inform local and national decision making in response to coronavirus outbreaks.
SPI-M will continue to support the government as an operational subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and advise on infectious disease modelling and epidemiology to assist the government response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and beyond.
This will also allow many academics who have volunteered significant amounts of their own time to return to their usual research. UKHSA’s epidemiological modelling will complement the work of SAGE and support their continuing scientific work.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA said:
Professor Graham Medley, Co-chair of SPI-M said:
UKHSA will estimate R value and growth rate estimates for all 4 nations of the UK, but the devolved administrations will continue to publish estimates for their own nations. In Northern Ireland, the R value is produced by the COVID-19 modelling group on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.
It’s important to remember that R and growth rates are not the only important measures of the pandemic and should be considered in the context of other metrics, such as estimates of prevalence, case rates, hospitalisations and vaccinations.
Source: UK Health Security Agency