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Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections


COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in England, Wales, and Scotland in the latest week (ending 26 July 2022). The trend remained uncertain in Northern Ireland.

The estimated percentage of the community population that had COVID-19 was: 

  • 3.86% in England (1 in 25 people) 

  • 3.58% in Wales (1 in 30 people) 

  • 5.98% in Northern Ireland (1 in 17 people) 

  • 4.95% in Scotland (1 in 20 people)

An estimated 1.8 million people in private households (2.8% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 2 July 2022.

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Infections

COVID-19 infections decreased in England, Wales, and Scotland

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, UK, 31 July 2021 to 26 July 2022

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The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 decreased in England (3.86%), Wales (3.58%), and Scotland (4.95%) and the trend was uncertain in Northern Ireland (5.98%) in the latest week (ending 26 July 2022).
Last updated: 05/08/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

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Large increase in the rate of reinfections since the start of the Omicron-dominant period

Rate of reinfections per 100,000 participant days at risk, UK, 22 March 2021 to 11 July 2022

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There has been a large increase in the rates for all first reinfections, and first reinfections with a high viral load, since the Omicron variants became dominant.

Of reinfections from 2 July 2020 to 8 July 2022, most have been in the period when the Omicron variant was dominant. Around three-quarters of reinfections were in the Omicron-dominant period following first infections in the Alpha- (37.9%) and Delta- (37.1%) dominant periods. Around one in six reinfections have occurred during the same variant-dominant period, but the rate is much higher for the Omicron-dominant period (14.6%) than the Alpha- (1.8%) and Delta- (1.0%) dominant periods.

We define the Alpha variant period as prior to 17 May 2021, the Delta variant period as 17 May to 19 December 2021, and the Omicron variants period as 20 December 2021 onwards. The respective variants were most dominant during these periods, but other variants were also in circulation.

Last updated: 20/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, 20 July 2022 bulletin

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Younger people were more likely to be reinfected than older people

The risk of reinfection was around five times higher in the period when the Omicron variants were most common (20 December 2021 and onwards), compared with the period when the Delta variant was most common (17 May to 19 December 2021). The risk of reinfection has decreased since earlier in the Omicron period, where people were around 10 times more likely to be reinfected in March 2022. 

Between 2 July 2020 and 1 July 2022, people were more likely to be reinfected if they: 

  • had a "milder" primary infection with a lower viral load 

  • did not report symptoms with their first infection 

  • were younger 

Last updated: 20/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, 20 July 2022 bulletin

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Large increase seen in re-infection rates since Omicron variants became most common

The risk of re-infection was around seven times higher in the period when the Omicron variants were most common (20 December 2021 onwards), compared with the period when the Delta variant was most common (17 May to 19 December 2021).

Between 2 July 2020 and 4 June 2022, people were more likely to be re-infected if they:

  • were unvaccinated 

  • had a "milder" primary infection with a lower viral load 

  • did not report symptoms with their first infection 

  • were younger

Last updated: 22/06/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, 22 June 2022 bulletin

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At least half of all people in each UK country have had COVID-19 since the survey began

Estimated cumulative percentage of the population who have tested positive for COVID-19 during the survey period by country, UK, 27 April 2020 to 11 February 2022

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Since the start of the Coronavirus Infection Survey, the percentage of each UK country's population that has had COVID-19 was:  

  • 70.7% in England (27 April 2020 to 11 February 2022) 

  • 56.0% in Wales (30 June 2020 to 11 February 2022) 

  • 72.2% in Northern Ireland (27 July 2020 to 11 February 2022) 

  • 51.5% in Scotland (22 September 2020 to 11 February 2022) 

Across all four UK countries, the percentage of the population that has had COVID-19 since the start of the survey increased at varying rates up to February 2022. 

Last updated: 22/04/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey technical article: cumulative incidence of the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19

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Infections by age

COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in all age groups in England

Modelled daily percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, by age group, England, 15 June to 26 July 2022

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The positivity rate decreased in all age groups in the week ending 26 July 2022. However, infection rates were high across all age groups in the latest week. Uncertainty around these estimates is higher than usual because of smaller sample sizes as we transition to our new digital data collection method.

Last updated: 05/08/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

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COVID-19 infections by single year of age over time for each UK country

Modelled daily percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, by single year of age, UK, 14 June to 23 July 2022

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This chart shows the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 by single year of age from 14 June to 26 July 2022 up until the reference day of 23 July 2022 for England and Scotland, and up until the reference day of 22 July for Wales as there is a higher level of uncertainty beyond this period. Data for this period, up to 26 July 2022 are available in our accompanying datasets. Northern Ireland data are not available this week as a result of smaller sample sizes as we transition to our new digital data collection method.

The method used to generate these data differs slightly from positivity estimates for age groups, so they are not comparable.

Last updated: 05/08/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

Infections by region

COVID-19 infections decreased in all English regions

Modelled daily percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs by region, England, 15 June to 26 July 2022

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The percentage of people testing positive decreased in all English regions. The positivity rate was the highest in London (4.25%) and was lower in Yorkshire and The Humber (3.36%) and the East Midlands (3.37).

Last updated: 05/08/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey bulletin

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Long COVID

No evidence of difference in self-reported long COVID for triple-vaccinated following Omicron BA.1, Omicron BA.2 or Delta infections

Percentage of study participants aged 18 years and over with self-reported long COVID 12 to 16 weeks after a first coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, stratified by compatible COVID-19 variant and vaccination status when infected, UK: 17 May 2021 to 27 May 2022

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Among adults who were triple-vaccinated when first infected with COVID-19, there was no evidence of a difference in the likelihood of reporting long COVID between first infections compatible with the Omicron BA.1 (4.5%), Omicron BA.2 (4.2%) or Delta variants (5.0%), after adjusting for participants’ personal characteristics.

Among double-vaccinated adults, the likelihood of reporting long COVID after a first infection compatible with the Omicron BA.1 variant was 48.2% lower than following a first infection with the Delta variant. The likelihood of reporting activity-limiting long COVID was 41.3% lower for Omicron BA.1 than Delta.

These estimates relate to the period 12 to 16 weeks after a first COVID-19 infection using data to 27 May 2022. They extend those published in our earlier Self-reported long COVID after infection with the Omicron variant in the UK release, which related to the period four to eight weeks after infection.

Last updated: 18/07/2022

Find out more in our Self-reported long COVID after infection with the Omicron variant in the UK: 18 July 2022 bulletin

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An estimated 1.8 million people in private households (2.8% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 2 July 2022. Of those, around 8 in 10 (81%) reported experiencing long COVID symptoms at least 12 weeks after first having (suspected) COVID-19, around 4 in 10 (43%) at least one year after, and around 2 in 10 (21%) at least two years after.

The most common long COVID symptoms were fatigue (54%), shortness of breath (31%), loss of smell (23%) and muscle ache (22%). Symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 1.3 million people (72%) of those with self-reported long COVID. 

Self-reported long COVID was more common in:

  • those aged 35 to 69 years

  • females

  • people living in more deprived areas

  • those working in social care

  • those aged 16 years and over who were not students or retired, and were not in or looking for paid work

  • those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability 

Last updated: 04/08/2022

Read more about this in our Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK bulletin

Symptoms

Percentage of people testing positive who reported symptoms compatible with COVID-19 remained similar

Unweighted percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus with symptoms, including only those who have strong positive tests (Ct less than 30) by month, UK, 1 December 2020 to 24 June 2022

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In June 2022, around three in five people (61%) in the UK testing positive for COVID-19 reported any symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

The percentage of people testing positive who reported abdominal pain, fever, sore throat, and muscle ache have increased in June 2022 compared with May 2022.

The percentage of people reporting loss of taste or loss of smell remains at a low level in June 2022, after decreasing sharply between December 2021 and January 2022. This change coincided with increasing infections with the Omicron variants of COVID-19.

Last updated: 20/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, 22 June 2022 bulletin

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Infections in schools

Both primary (aged 5 to 10) and secondary school pupils (aged 11 to 15) were more likely to have a positive PCR or reported lateral flow test in the Spring 2022 term than in the Autumn 2021 term. However, in primary aged pupils the increase was only seen in younger age groups.

In both terms, secondary age pupils were more likely to have a positive test than primary aged pupils. In the Autumn 2021 term, 14.2% of primary age pupils and 21.5% of secondary age pupils had positive tests. In Spring 2022, 16.1% of primary age pupils and 27.0% of secondary age pupils had positive tests. This contrasts with school staff, where secondary school staff were consistently less likely to have a positive test than primary school staff.

These data only include those pupils who took a PCR test or reported a lateral flow test result and therefore do not reflect the true level of COVID-19 infections among school pupils. Testing behaviour and changes to testing guidance over time will affect the data.

Last updated: 08/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in school pupils, England: up to 6 April 2022 bulletin

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The proportion of pupils with a positive COVID-19 test was higher in pupils without special educational needs (SEN) than pupils with SEN in both the Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022 terms.

In Autumn 2021, 12.6% of primary and 19% of secondary pupils with SEN had a positive PCR or reported lateral flow test compared with 14.5% of primary and 22.1% of secondary pupils without SEN. In Spring 2022, 15.2% of primary and 24.9% of secondary pupils with SEN had positive tests compared with 16.3% of primary and 27.4% of secondary pupils without SEN.

These data only include those pupils who took a PCR test or reported a lateral flow test result, and therefore do not reflect the true level of COVID-19 infections among school pupils. Testing behaviour and changes to testing guidance over time will affect the data.

Last updated: 08/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in school pupils, England: up to 6 April 2022 bulletin

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The proportion of school staff with a positive PCR or reported lateral flow test was higher in Spring 2022 than Autumn 2021 for all staff types. More primary school staff had positive tests than secondary school staff across all staff types for both the Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022 terms. When adjusting for other demographic and geographic variables, secondary school staff were 29.3% less likely to have a positive test than primary school staff in Spring 2022.

This contrasts with school pupils, where primary aged pupils were consistently less likely to have a positive test than secondary aged pupils.

Teaching assistants had the highest proportions of positive tests in both primary and secondary schools (22.0% in primary and 14.9% in secondary schools in Spring 2022).

Head and deputy head teachers in secondary schools had the lowest proportion of positive tests in both Autumn 2021 (8.4%) and Spring 2022 (9%). In primary schools, support staff had the lowest proportion of positive tests in Autumn 2021 (10.6%), with head and deputy head teachers having the lowest proportion in Spring 2022 (16.1%).

These data only include those staff who took a PCR test or reported a lateral flow test result and therefore do not reflect the true level of COVID-19 infections among school staff. Testing behaviour and changes to testing guidance over time will affect the data.

Last updated: 08/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID19) vaccine uptake and infections among the school workforce, England: up to 6 April 2022 bulletin

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Treatments

Around three-quarters of high-risk people who took treatment for COVID-19 felt it had a positive effect

Data collected between 11 and 25 May 2022 from those who were at highest risk from COVID-19 and potentially suitable for antibody and antiviral out-of-hospital treatments for COVID-19 showed: 

  • around two-fifths (41%) were not aware they needed to submit the result from a free government-issued lateral flow device to access out-of-hospital treatments 

  • approximately three-quarters (74%) of those who took the treatment offered after testing positive felt it reduced their symptoms and 63% did not experience any side effects; the majority (94%) would repeat the treatment if offered it again 

  • of those who had previously been advised to shield, around one in eight (13%) were continuing to follow the shielding guidance, while around two-thirds (68%) were no longer shielding but were taking extra precautions 

  • around half (53%) felt more comfortable going out socialising now that out-of-hospital treatments are available, while around a third (34%) reported feeling no different 

  • more respondents reported COVID-19 would pose a major risk to their physical health (62%) and mental health (40%) if vaccines were not available compared with if out-of-hospital treatments were not available (36% and 23% respectively) 

This survey has a relatively small number of respondents (1,085) and responses are self-reported.  

You can read about related findings on clinically extremely vulnerable people on our Lifestyle page.

Last updated: 07/07/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus and treatments for people at highest risk in England: 11 to 25 May 2022 bulletin

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Long COVID in schools

Nearly 1 in 50 (1.8%) primary school pupils and nearly 1 in 20 (4.8%) secondary school pupils in Years 7 to 13 met the criteria for long COVID following their most recent COVID-19 infection. These percentages have almost doubled since November to December 2021, from 1.0% of primary school pupils and 2.7% of secondary school pupils, however this difference is not significant and may be because of an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Of primary school pupils who were believed to have had COVID-19, 5.1% experienced ongoing symptoms for 12 or more weeks, with 75.6% of those reporting having their daily life affected in some way.

Of secondary school pupils in Years 7 to 13 who were believed to have had COVID-19, 12.4% experienced ongoing symptoms for 12 or more weeks, with 71.9% of those reporting having their daily life affected in some way. The most common aspect of daily life reported to be affected was the ability to stay physically active (58.8%).

Last updated: 15/06/2022

Read more about this in our COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey, England: long COVID and mental health, March 2022 bulletin

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Secondary school pupils in Years 7 to 11 who had a positive COVID-19 test at some point since March 2020 were more likely to have experienced systemic symptoms (fever or high temperature), loss of taste and smell and cardiovascular symptoms for 12 weeks or more (22.1%, 10.3% and 8.5%, respectively) than pupils who had not had a positive COVID-19 test (14.4%, 1.5% and 4.5%, respectively).

Similarly in primary school pupils, cardiovascular symptoms and loss of taste and smell for 12 weeks or more were more common for those who had a positive COVID-19 test since March 2020 (4.8 and 3.1%, respectively) than those who had not had a positive COVID-19 test (1.2% and 0.1%, respectively).

Last updated: 15/06/2022

Read more about this in our COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey, England: long COVID and mental health, March 2022 bulletin

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Infections by characteristic

Those who travelled abroad in the previous 28 days continued to be more likely to test positive for COVID-19

People were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks up to 7 May 2022 if they:

  • had not previously been infected with COVID-19 

  • travelled abroad in the previous 28 days

  • had been living in a household with two or three people rather than living alone

  • were male 

  • had not had contact with hospitals 

  • used lateral flow tests regularly (this is likely related to those at a higher risk of infection being encouraged to take regular lateral flow tests)

  • had not been living with a child aged 16 years or under 

  • spent more time socialising outside their home

  • worked in the hospitality sector rather than another sector

You can read about the impact of vaccination on the likelihood of testing positive on our Vaccines page.

Last updated: 25/05/2022

Read more about this in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, 25 May 2022 bulletin

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Further information


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) estimates the number of infections in the community population excluding people in hospitals, care homes and other institutional settings. People are randomly selected and tested regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms. Positivity rates are modelled estimates adjusted to represent the whole UK population. NHS Test and Trace data only refer to people who have taken and reported test results. Unlike CIS estimates, this data is affected by testing capacity and changes in government policy over time.

To find out more about infections data from different sources visit our more information page.

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Latest insights team
infection.survey.analysis@ons.gov.uk