During this period of high infections, we will publish early headline results at 2pm on Wednesdays – two days earlier than our regular Friday publication.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published weekly figures on the latest results from the COVID-19 Infection Survey. These figures cover the latest available estimates of the numbers and proportion of the population in the UK who would test positive for COVID-19. We regularly break the figures down by age, country and English region. They can also include additional information and characteristics, for example, new variants of the virus or people's occupation types. Since the start of 2021, we have published fortnightly estimates of antibodies by age and some other characteristics to help monitor the impact of the vaccination programme.
When the ONS removed pre-release access to statistical releases in 2017, it was made clear that in certain circumstances, such as when important for operational planning and decision making, early access can be given under the authority of the National Statistician. The rapidly changing nature of the pandemic requires timely decisions to be made by government and its advisors on the pandemic response. Our statement explains more about the early management information we provide to government.
During this rapidly changing phase of the pandemic, we also recognise that the early release of data is in the public interest. Therefore, our aim is to publish headline results at 2pm on Wednesday each week, in advance of our fuller, regular weekly bulletin issued at midday each Friday.
This plan carries several risks because of the fast-paced nature of the production of our statistics. Sometimes laboratory delays, technical issues or problems identified during initial quality assurance may cause delays to the publication of these early results. It is also possible, that as further quality assurance takes place, some early results could change slightly. We believe these risks are outweighed by the public benefit of releasing these important statistics as early as possible. As the pandemic changes, we will review this decision.