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Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections


In the week ending 22 January 2022, COVID-19 positivity rates continued to decrease in England, Wales and Scotland and the trend was uncertain in Northern Ireland. The estimated percentage of the community population that had COVID-19 in the latest week was: 

  • 4.82% in England (1 in 20 people) 

  • 3.27% in Wales (1 in 30 people) 

  • 5.26% in Northern Ireland (1 in 20 people) 

  • 3.11% in Scotland (1 in 30 people)

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Infections

The percentage testing positive continued to decrease in England, Wales and Scotland

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, UK, 24 January 2021 to 22 January 2022

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In the week ending 22 January 2022, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 continued to decrease in England (4.82%), Wales (3.27%) and Scotland (3.11%). In Northern Ireland, the trend was uncertain (5.26%) in the latest week.

Infections compatible with the Omicron variant continue to be the most common across all UK countries.

In England, the positivity rate increased in those aged 2 years to school Year 6 and school Years 7 to 11, but decreased in all other age groups in the latest week. The positivity rate decreased in all English regions except for the South West where the trend was uncertain.

Last updated: 26/01/2022

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

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey and Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission study show similar trends over time

Estimated percentage of those living in private households testing positive for COVID-19, 10 January 2021 to 22 January 2022, England

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The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) and Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) show similar trends over time.

CIS and REACT both estimate how many infections there are in the community, although they use different methods and publish data covering different time periods.

Last updated: 26/01/2022

Read more about this in Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study

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Long COVID

Two vaccine doses were associated with decreased likelihood of self-reported long COVID

Adjusted odds ratios for self-reported long COVID (any severity and activity-limiting) at least 12 weeks after infection, comparing study participants who were double-vaccinated with a matched control group who were unvaccinated (reference group), UK, 26 April 2020 to 30 November 2021

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Two vaccine doses received at least two weeks before COVID-19 infection decreased the odds of self-reported long COVID by 41.1% in adults aged 18 to 69 years (UK, 26 April 2020 to 30 November 2021).

Long COVID symptoms of any severity were reported by 9.5% of double-vaccinated study participants, compared with 14.6% of those who were unvaccinated when infected. Long COVID symptoms severe enough to limit day-to-day activities were reported by 5.5% of double-vaccinated compared with 8.7% of unvaccinated participants.

There was no statistical evidence that these associations were different depending on type of vaccine received - either adenovirus vector (Oxford/AstraZeneca) or mRNA (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna) vaccines.

Last updated: 26/01/2022

Read more about this in Self-reported long COVID after two doses of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in the UK: 26 January 2022

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Around 1 in 50 people in the UK were experiencing self-reported long COVID

  • An estimated 1.3 million people in private households (2.0% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 6 December 2021. 

  • Of those reporting long COVID symptoms, 4 in 10 (40%) were experiencing these symptoms for at least a year after the first (suspected) infection. 

  • Symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of around two-thirds (64%) of those with self-reported long COVID. 

  • Fatigue (51%), loss of smell (37%), shortness of breath (36%) and difficulty concentrating (28%) remained the most common long COVID symptoms experienced. 

  • Self-reported long COVID was more common in those aged 35 to 69 years, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in health or social care or teaching and education, and those with another health condition or disability.

Last updated: 06/01/2022

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

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Likelihood of testing positive

People working outside their home were more likely to test positive

People were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 in the fortnight ending 31 December 2021, if they were one of the following: 

  • unvaccinated 

  • not previously infected with COVID-19 

  • male 

  • working outside the home 

  • aged under 40 years 

  • working in the hospitality sector 

Last updated: 19/01/2022

Read more about this in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19

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Those who spent more time socialising with others were more likely to test positive

Estimated likelihood of testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs by behavioural characteristic variables, UK, 18 to 31 December 2021

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People who spent more time socialising with others outside of their household continued to be more likely to test positive for COVID-19 (18 to 31 December 2021).

People who had physical contact with those aged 18 to 69 years were more likely to test positive than those who had not.

Last updated: 19/01/2022

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Vaccinated people were less likely to test positive, but this effect was smaller than seen before

Those who reported receiving any one COVID-19 vaccine 15 to 90 days ago, a second Pfizer vaccine 15 to 180 days ago, or any three vaccinations were less likely to test positive than those not vaccinated (fortnight ending 31 December 2021). Similarly, those who had previously been infected with COVID-19 continued to be less likely to test positive. However, these effects are smaller than what we have seen previously.

Last updated: 19/01/2022

Read more about this in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19

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The risk of re-infection was sixteen times higher in the Omicron-dominant than in the Delta-dominant period

  • The risk of reinfection was sixteen times higher in the Omicron-dominant period (20 December 2021 to 9 January 2022) compared with the Delta-dominant period (17 May 2021 to 19 December 2021). 

  • Unvaccinated people were approximately twice as likely to be re-infected than people who had their second vaccine 14 to 89 days ago (2 July 2020 to 9 January 2022). 

  • People who had their second vaccine dose over 90 days ago were more likely to be re-infected than people who had their second vaccine 14 to 89 days ago.  

  • People were more likely to be reinfected if they had a lower viral load at their initial infection. 

Last updated: 19/01/2022

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Symptoms

People with Omicron compatible infections are substantially less likely to report loss of taste or smell

Unweighted percentage of people with symptoms, including only those who have strong positive tests (Ct less than 30) by Delta and Omicron compatible COVID-19 variants, UK, 9 to 31 December 2021

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In the UK, the most commonly reported symptoms have consistently been cough, fatigue and headache. However, most reported symptoms decreased in December 2021 (58%) compared with November 2021 (65%). These changes appear to be driven by the Omicron variant. People with Omicron compatible infections were less likely to report most symptoms, and substantially less likely to report loss of taste or loss of smell, compared with people with Delta compatible infections (9 to 31 December 2021).

People with Omicron compatible infections were more likely to report a sore throat. However, the percentage of people reporting a sore throat who tested negative for COVID-19 has also increased recently. This means that people may be reporting a sore throat due to other infections, such as the common cold or flu.

Last updated: 19/01/2022

Read more about this in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19

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Further information


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) and REACT study both track COVID-19 infections in the community, excluding people in hospitals, care homes and other institutional settings. They test randomly selected individuals that might or might not be experiencing symptoms. Their positivity rates are modelled estimates adjusted to represent the population. NHS Test and Trace data refer to people tested because of specific reasons. These might include people experiencing symptoms, being in contact with a known case or employer referral. NHS Test and Trace data includes new cases in the community, hospitals and care homes.

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

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Contact

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