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Viral load lower for COVID-19 reinfection

28 July 2021

Second coronavirus (COVID-19) infections have a significantly lower viral load than first infections, suggesting reinfection is less likely to cause illness.

Viral load is determined by how quickly a test can detect the virus, measured by the cycle threshold (Ct). Positive COVID-19 tests with a low Ct value (30 or less) indicate a higher viral load, while a high Ct value suggests a lower viral load.

Consistent with previous results, analysis of Ct values at first and second infection found that viral load is significantly higher for the first infection than the second, indicating that an individual may have an effective immune response to reinfection.

From the 19,470 participants who had previously recovered from a COVID-19 infection, 195 reinfections were identified. However, of the 195 reinfections, only 48 had a high viral load with Ct less than 30. These results suggest that the number of reinfections is low overall, and reinfections with a high viral load are even lower.

Of those who test positive for COVID-19 with a high viral load, 61% reported symptoms in July 2021. Symptoms reported were more likely to be “classic” symptoms than gastrointestinal or loss of taste or smell only. The prevalence of any symptoms and “classic symptoms” were higher in June and July, and January and February, compared with March and April. The most commonly reported symptoms have consistently been cough, fatigue and headache.

The majority of people testing positive for COVID-19 reported symptoms in July 2021

Percentage of people with symptoms, including only those who have strong positive tests (Ct less than 30) by month, UK, 1 December 2020 to 12 July 2021

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Data for percentage of people with symptoms in the UK (XLSX, 20 KB)

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Deaths from COVID-19 increase in the UK

27 July 2021

The number of deaths from all causes in the UK in the week ending 16 July 2021 was 11,053, which is 4.9% above the average for the corresponding week in 2015 to 2019.

Deaths were above the five-year average in England and Scotland, and below the five-year average in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Of these, 268 deaths were registered involving coronavirus (COVID-19), accounting for around 1 in 41 deaths (2.4%). This is a 23.5% increase on the previous week.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 increased in England, Scotland, and increased slightly in Wales compared with the previous week. In Northern Ireland, they remained level.

Deaths include people who are not in their usual country of residence.

Deaths involving COVID-19 increased in the UK in the week to 16 July

Number of deaths registered by week, UK, week ending 8 January 2021 to week ending 16 July 2021

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Data for deaths involving COVID-19 in the week to 16 July (XLSX, 20KB)

Using the most up-to-date data, the total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales is over 140,000 (141,156 registrations up to 16 July 2021). Between 13 March 2020 and 9 July 2021, there have been 104,115 excess deaths above the five-year average.

Our data are based on deaths registered in England and Wales and include all deaths where “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” was mentioned on the death certificate. Weekly figures are available by local authority and health board.

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Infections have increased in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

23 July 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continued to increase in England and have increased in Wales and Northern Ireland in the week ending 17 July 2021, while in Scotland the trend is uncertain in the most recent week.

The estimated percentage of the community population (those not in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings) that had COVID-19 was:

  • 1.36% (1 in 75 people) in England, up from 1.06% (1 in 95 people) last week
  • 0.47% (1 in 210 people) in Wales, up from 0.28% (1 in 360 people) last week
  • 0.59% (1 in 170 people) in Northern Ireland, up from 0.34% (1 in 290 people) last week
  • 1.24% (1 in 80 people) in Scotland, compared with 1.14% (1 in 90 people) last week

Across England, the percentage of people testing positive continued to increase in all age groups in the week ending 17 July 2021, except for those in school Year 7 to school Year 11 where the trend is uncertain.

Infections have also continued to increase in all English regions in the most recent week, except for the North East and North West, where the trends are uncertain.

The percentage of people testing positive continued to increase in most English regions

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, daily, by region from 6 June to 17 July 2021, England

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Data for percentage testing positive by region in England (XLSX, 67 KB)

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England's COVID-19 mortality rate in June was similar to May

23 July 2021

Mortality rates due to coronavirus (COVID-19) in England were similar in June 2021 to the previous month. Before June, mortality rates due to COVID-19 had significantly decreased for four consecutive months.

This mortality rate accounts for the size and age structure of the population and is called the “age-standardised mortality rate” (ASMR).

The ASMR of deaths due to COVID-19 (where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death) was 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people in England, compared with 7.1 in May 2021. This increase was not statistically significant. In Wales, there were two deaths due to COVID-19, which was too small to calculate a reliable ASMR.

The ASMR excludes non-residents.

Provisional data show a total of 38,611 deaths registered in England in June 2021. This was 1,275 fewer deaths than in June 2020 and 310 more than the June five-year average (2015 to 2019).

In Wales in June 2021, there were 2,560 deaths registered, 132 deaths fewer than in June 2020 and 26 more than the five-year average.

The leading cause of death in both England and Wales in June 2021 was ischaemic heart diseases (10.8% and 11.9% of all deaths respectively).

This compares COVID-19 as a leading cause in 0.9% of all deaths registered in June in England and 0.1% of all deaths in Wales.

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Air travel to and from the UK remained low in January to March 2021

23 July 2021

In Quarter 1 2021, overseas residents made 96% less visits by air to the UK, while UK residents made 94% less visits abroad by air compared with Quarter 1 2020.

During January to March 2021 overseas residents made 195,000 visits by air to the UK as travel continues to be restricted by coronavirus (COVID-19) . Meanwhile, 774,000 visits abroad by air were made by UK residents in January to March 2021. Both figures are in comparison with the equivalent period of January to March 2020.

Of all visits to the UK made in Quarter 1 2021, 127,000 were made to see family and friends and 20,000 business trips were made. Just 7,000 of the trips made in the first quarter were holidays.

In January to March 2021, estimated spending in the UK by overseas visitors decreased by 94% to £248 million when compared with Quarter 1 2020. In the same period, UK residents spent £817 million on visits abroad, 90% less than the equivalent period in 2020.

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Doubt about return to normality within a year

23 July 2021

Almost one in three (32%) adults felt that it would take more than a year for life to return to normal in the week (14 to 18 July 2021) approaching the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in England on 19 July 2021. This figure slightly increased from 28% the previous week, while the proportion who felt life would return to normal in six months or less decreased from 20% to 15%.

A high proportion of adults continue to feel that compliance measures to slow the spread of coronavirus are either “very important” or “important”. One in nine (90%) think it is important to wear a face covering when shopping (the same proportion as the previous week), and 89% believe it is important to socially distance from those not in their household (88% the previous week).

Over the period 14 to 18 July 2021, a similar proportion of adults reported always or often maintaining social distancing (63%) to the previous week (62%). This figure has fallen from 85% in the week 14 to 18 April 2021 following step two of the roadmap out of lockdown in England.

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Fuel sales rise and retail sales move more offline

23 July 2021

Automotive fuel sales volumes increased 2.3% in the month to June 2021 as people continued to increase their amount of travel, while the proportion of online retail sales dipped in favour of physical stores.

Retail sales volumes in the three months to June 2021 were 12.2% higher than in the previous three months, largely driven by particularly strong sales in April when non-essential retail reopened.

The proportion of retail sales made online remains much higher than before the pandemic, but dropped in June to 26.7%, down from 28.4% in May.

Overall, retail sales volumes in the month to June 2021 rose 0.5%, and are now 9.5% higher than their pre-pandemic levels (compared with February 2020).

Food stores were the biggest contributor to that monthly increase (up 4.2%), anecdotally linked to the start of the Euro 2020 football championship. Non-food stores reported a fall in sales volumes over the month of 1.7%.

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Online job adverts 30% higher than February 2020 average

22 July 2021

The volume of online job adverts on 16 July 2021 had increased across all UK countries and English regions from the previous week, bringing the total UK volume to 130% of its February 2020 average.

This is 7 percentage points higher than the volume of online job adverts seen in the equivalent week of 2019, and is considerably higher than the volume seen in the same week of 2020, according to data from Adzuna.

On 16 July 2021, the total volume of online job adverts was at 130% of its February 2020 average level, 7 percentage points higher than that seen in the equivalent week of 2019

Volume of online job adverts by category, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 16 July 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

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  1. Further category breakdowns are included in the  online job advert estimates dataset and more details on the methodology can be found in  Using Adzuna data to derive an indicator of weekly vacancies.

  2. Users should note that week-on-week changes in online job advert volumes are outlined as percentages, rather than as percentage point changes. Percentage change figures quoted in the commentary will therefore not necessarily match the percentage point changes observed in the charts and accompanying dataset.

Data for volume of online job adverts by category (XLSX, 33KB)

Just three of 28 job advert categories were below their February 2020 average levels in the latest week. These were "energy, oil and gas", "legal" and "graduate", at 87%, 95% and 99% of their February 2020 average levels, respectively.

The highest performing category relative to its pre-pandemic level remained the "transport/logistics/warehouse" category, at 302% of its February 2020 average level. This is a 153% increase since 8 January 2021 and is substantially higher than the number of adverts seen for this category in the equivalent weeks of 2019 and 2020.

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Coronavirus lockdown shows marked effect on crimes

22 July 2021

Fraud and computer misuse offences have increased in England and Wales by 36% since the first coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown from April to June 2020.

Crime figures for the year ending March 2021, showed this increase in comparison with the year ending March 2019 (Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)). This also accompanied a 20% decrease in theft offences.

While people were being told to stay at home during the first lockdown, acquisitive crimes such as burglaries declined, because criminals were unable to take advantage of homes being empty at predictable times, for example, for work.

Police recorded crime also showed a decrease in these types of offences and in crime overall (13%), excluding fraud and computer misuse. The first three months of the first national lockdown, from April to June 2020, showed the largest drop in recorded crimes, 19% compared with the same period in 2019.

Police recorded crime also captured a decline in the number of violent offences in the year ending March 2020, with a 16% decline in murders, 14% fall in firearms offences and a 15% drop in knife crime.

Total recorded crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, has fluctuated across the year ending March 2021. Overall, there was a 10% decrease on the previous year.

Most of the differences can be attributed to the introduction and subsequent easing of national lockdown restrictions throughout the year.  

The most substantial drop in crime came in April 2020, compared with April 2019, and remained lower across subsequent months in comparison with the same time periods in 2019. This coincided with the introduction of the first national lockdown.

The difference narrowed in tandem with the easing of lockdown restrictions over the summer of 2020 and widened again as restrictions were reintroduced.

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User requests

We continue to respond to data requests from the public, media and government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Responses are published in our list of user requested data.

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View all data used in this article


  • Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional

    Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19), in the latest weeks for which data are available.

  • Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

    Indicators from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey covering the period 14 to 18 July to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain.

  • Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society

    This page has been superseded by the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators page (see link in Notices) . This will be the new title and location of the bulletin presenting the real-time indicators of economic activity and social change, for 13 May 2021 and future releases.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK

    Estimates for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This survey is being delivered in partnership with University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust. This study is jointly led by the ONS and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) working with the University of Oxford and UK Biocentre to collect and test samples.