Coronavirus R rate unchanged as study suggests UK could have passed peak of second wave

·2-min read

The coronavirus R rate remains between 1.1 and 1.3, the same level as the previous week, according to scientists advising the government.

The latest advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is that “the epidemic has continued to grow in England over recent weeks”.

R represents the average number of people each COVID-19 positive person goes on to infect.

The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between 2% and 4% for the UK as a whole, according to Sage.

It comes after a study found the R rate has already reduced to 1.0, suggesting the UK has passed the peak of the second wave of COVID.

The Zoe COVID Symptom Study app, run by King’s College London, says there were 42,049 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the UK on average over the two weeks to 1 November (excluding care homes), down from 43,569 daily cases the week before.

Researchers behind the study said the R rate is currently 1.0, meaning the pandemic is no longer growing.

The study suggests positive steps have been made as England entered in a second nationwide lockdown, with all non-essential retailers as well as pubs, restaurants, gyms and beauty salons closed down until at least 2 December.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/11/05: A digital display screen on the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square showing a message saying Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives'. England has entered into the 2nd Lockdown due to the Pandemic. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
England went into a second nationwide lockdown on Thursday in an attempt to curb the rate of coronavirus infections in the country (Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A closed sign outside a cafe in Leicester, on the first day of a second national lockdown for England. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
Non-esential retailers, restaurants, gyms and bars are among the businesses forced to close their doors until at least 2 December as part of England's second nationwide lockdown (Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, said the research showed that daily cases of coronavirus are falling in the north of England, and Scotland, and cases overall are moving in the “right direction”.

He said data revealed a “positive sign that we have passed the peak of this second wave”, adding: “We urge everyone to respect the restrictions and help get the number of cases down as soon as possible to help the NHS, end the lockdown and get us in good shape for December.”

If R is greater than one, then the epidemic is growing, if R is less than one the epidemic is shrinking. The higher R is above 1, the more people one infected person infects and so the faster the epidemic grows.

On Friday the government was criticised for displaying “inaccurate” data on graphs presented to a press conference on 31 October during which Boris Johnson used the figures to justify introducing the second lockdown.

Watch: These are the exceptions for going outside during England's second national lockdown

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