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Forecast for COVID-19 cases in the UK: Updated modelling

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Forecast for COVID-19 cases in the UK: Updated modelling

The UK passed the peak of new cases on 8th April, but zero new cases not predicted until 8th August.

Dr. Pancrazi, from the Department of Economics and the CAGE Research Centre at the University of Warwick, has applied Richards’ phenomenological model for predicting the pattern of an outbreak to the case of the UK. This model has been used to assist the trajectory of previous outbreaks including H1N1, SARS, Ebola and the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Dr Pancrazi is regularly updating his model with new data here.

Updated findings today show coronavirus infections in the UK have passed their peak and started to slow. All the signs are that the lockdown measures are working. But even under current lockdown conditions, we are unlikely to see zero new cases before 8th August. As the country is unlikely to be able to maintain full lockdown until then, careful management will be needed to preserve the downward trajectory of cases.

Dr Roberto Pancrazi comments:

"In the previous briefing, I estimated the Richards’ phenological model to forecast the Covid-19 evolution in the UK and in England’s NHS regions using data up to April 8th, 2020. Since then, there have been three important sets of information that should be taken into account to predict the trajectory of the epidemic:

  • first, new data are available;
  • second, the number of tests have been increasing; and
  • third, there was quite a significant revision on how the data on both cases and tests were reported.

"Updating the modelling with this additional information to further investigate the expected trajectory of the epidemic, there are three main results:

  • first, the model confirms that the peak of new infections was reached on April 8th;
  • second, while robustly in the downward trajectory of the infection curve, currently, on April 24th, the UK is only at roughly one third of the way through the decline.
  • Finally, the end of the epidemic, defined as the date with zero new daily cases, is predicted for August 8th, conditional on the contagion not growing if/when social restrictions are relaxed."

total cases in the UK

Note: data has been updated to take into account rise in daily testing and revisions from Public Health England on how they are reporting cases. More information on how the model has been updated can be found in the full briefing (CAGE Policy Briefing no. 23).

28 April 2020

About the research

Roberto Pancrazi, Update on Estimating and Forecasting Covid-19 Evolution in the UK, CAGE Policy Briefing no.23

Roberto Pancrazi, Estimating and Forecasting Covid-19 Evolution in the UK and its Regions: a Brief Note, CAGE Policy briefing no.20