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Overview of latest insights tool


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights tool helps users easily find the latest information related to the pandemic. It primarily uses data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but where appropriate we include data from other sources. This page provides information on the data used and explains how these can differ from other reported figures. We welcome any feedback or questions you might have.

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Infections


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.

Differences in infection data sources

NHS Test and Trace data  are the data used by the government for their daily updates. They 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 cases in the community, hospitals and care homes. It only includes new cases of COVID-19.

More information on the different methods used in the CIS and NHS Test and Trace is available in a comparative article

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey estimates the number of infections in the community population in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

People tested are from randomly selected residential households and may or may not have any COVID-19 symptoms. Nose and throat swabs are taken from all household members aged two years and over. It excludes those in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings. Positivity rates are calculated for seven-day periods and adjusted to represent the population. Results are published in a weekly bulletin, with releases on the characteristics of people testing positive and antibody and vaccination data published fortnightly. Results from this survey are also used to estimate the prevalence of ongoing symptoms following COVID-19 infection. The survey is delivered in partnership with University of Oxford, University of Manchester, UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) and Wellcome Trust.

Read more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey methodology.

Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) Study

The REACT Study also estimates the number of infections in the community population in England. The study tests randomly selected individuals (rather than households) over the age of five years. Results are calculated for time periods ranging from 18 to 32 days for each testing round. REACT is commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and carried out by Imperial College in partnership with Ipsos MORI.

Read more about the REACT Study methodology.

Schools Infection Survey

The COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey aims to investigate the prevalence of current coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and COVID-19 antibodies among pupils and staff in sampled primary and secondary schools in England, measured at half-termly intervals during the school year.

The study oversampled schools in high prevalence areas of the country. For further detail on sample design please see our accompanying COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey: methods and further information article.

COVID-19 variants


The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested new names for variants of concern, which are shown in Table 1.

Three genes of the original virus strain are used to detect it in PCR tests: ORF1ab, S and N genes.  The variant B.1.1.7 (WHO 'Alpha', known as the "UK variant") of COVID-19 has changes in one of the three genes that COVID-19 swab tests detect, known as the S-gene. This means in cases compatible with this variant, the S-gene is not detected in the swab sample.

Some coronavirus variants - including both B.1.617.2 (WHO 'Delta', first identified in India) and B.1.351 (WHO 'Beta', first identified in South Africa) - are positive on all three genes: ORF1ab, S and N. These strains are included in COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) category "Not compatible with the UK variant".

Other variants, including B.1.525 (WHO 'Eta', first identified in Nigeria), also have the same pattern of gene positivity as B.1.1.7 (WHO 'Alpha', the UK variant). At present these are rare in the UK, therefore this group is described as compatible with the UK variant in CIS. You can read more about the UK variant in a previous blog.

More information on individual variants and where they were first detected is available on the government variant dashboard.

Hospital admissions


Hospital data in the Coronavirus COVID-19) latest insights tool cover England. They are provided by the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) and comes from the Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) Watch surveillance system. SARI Watch monitors the number of patients with confirmed flu and COVID-19 admitted to hospital and critical care units (ICU and HDU). Admission rates are recorded by age and region. These data are provisional and subject to revision, and previous estimates may be updated in subsequent weeks.

More detailed information on hospitals and health is available on each of the relevant nation's websites: Public Health Agency (PHA) for Northern Ireland, Public Health Scotland (PHS), and Public Health Wales (PHW).

Deaths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) weekly deaths

The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS's) weekly provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales includes all deaths with the coronavirus (COVID-19) mentioned on the death certificate. This dataset provides counts based on the date the death was registered, as well as when it occurred.

Charts presented in the COVID-19 latest insights tool show deaths by the date of registration, not the date of occurrence. This is because the number of deaths that occur on any given date can change retrospectively as more deaths are registered. There is on average a delay of five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in the Impact of registration delays release.

This dataset also provides breakdowns of deaths by region, sex and age group. More information can be found through the ONS’s mortality statistics quality and methodology information page and in the User guide to mortality statistics.

Differences in data sources measuring COVID-19 deaths

Figures in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights tool are different from the daily surveillance figures on COVID-19 deaths published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Our data are collected using the cause of death noted on death certificates in England and Wales. This could include instances where a possible case of COVID-19 was diagnosed by a doctor, but no test for the virus was conducted. It also distinguishes between deaths where COVID-19 was a contributing factor, and deaths due to COVID-19.

Government surveillance figures provide daily and cumulative deaths within 28 days of a positive test. These figures provide an early view of mortality trends and are typically available two weeks earlier than the weekly death registrations published by the ONS.

A statement was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which provides more detail of the differences. Data on weekly deaths in Northern Ireland and Scotland are published by the National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Monthly mortality and other analysis

Monthly mortality analysis provides surveillance of mortality in England and Wales, with provisional death registration and death occurrence data broken down by sex, age and country published approximately 20 days after the end of each month; this also includes age-standardised rates for deaths due to COVID-19 and analysis of the leading causes of death in each month.

Additional releases looking into specific areas are also published on an ad-hoc basis. These include Deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with deaths from influenza and pneumonia, deaths by occupation and deaths by socioeconomic deprivation.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Mortality statistics in England and Wales QMI and the User guide to mortality statistics.

Antibodies

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) estimates antibody positivity in the community population in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The analysis on antibodies in this article is based on blood test results taken from a randomly selected subsample of individuals aged 16 years and over. Blood is taken by a health professional and tested for antibodies using a novel ELISA for immunoglobulins IgG, based on SARS-CoV-2 trimeric spike protein.

Antibody positivity figures until 7 December 2020 are estimates for 28-day periods weighted by age, sex, region, and ethnicity to represent the population. From 7 December 2020 onwards estimates are produced for each week based on a model for each UK nation. The antibodies model for Great Britain is run at a regional level and includes ethnicity, vaccine priority age groups, and sex. The antibody model for Northern Ireland is a temporal model (no spatial component) and accounts for sex and age in wider groups (because of lower sample size).

Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) Study

Participants of the REACT-2 study are randomly selected from the NHS patient list, which includes everybody registered with a GP in England. Participants complete questionnaires, including demographic details and clinical and COVID-19 vaccination histories, and self-administer a lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) test to detect IgG against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. REACT-2 figures are adjusted for test sensitivity and specificity to obtain antibody prevalence.

UK Health Security Agency sero-surveillance

The UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) publishes antibody positivity based on testing samples from healthy adult blood donors aged 17 years and older, supplied by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHS BT) as part of the UKHSA sero-surveillance programme. Antibody positivity estimates are calculated on a 4-week rolling basis and are weighted by NHS region, age group and sex to represent the population.

Samples are tested using two different antibody assays: one testing for antibodies against coronavirus spike protein (Roche S assay) and since December also using an assay testing for antibodies against nucleoprotein (Roche N assay). Currently approved vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 include genes for the spike (S) protein of COVID-19. Therefore, Roche N assays will only detect post-infection antibodies, while Roche S assays will detect both post-infection antibodies and vaccine-induced antibodies. Dual testing of samples allows estimation of the antibody prevalence due to vaccination (i.e. samples that are S positive and N negative). Both CIS and REACT-2 use tests checking for antibodies against the spike protein of COVID-19, which can reflect both infections and vaccinations.

COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Schools Infection Survey estimates the percentage of staff and pupils with antibodies against COVID-19. Staff are tested from blood samples using assays that detect antibodies against nucleoprotein (N) of COVID-19. Tests will only detect antibodies from a previous infection, not from vaccination.

Oral-fluids samples are taken from pupils as a non-invasive alternative to blood samples. Pupils’ samples are tested for antibodies against N of COVID-19, so will only detect post-infection antibodies.

Vaccinations

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey estimates the proportion of people vaccinated based on modelling of the people visited in the survey in the community in a particular time period. These estimates are then adjusted (post-stratified) using population estimates to be representative. National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) administrative data is used to validate self-reported vaccination status for England.

The GOV.UK coronavirus dashboard includes daily data for the UK and each constituent country on the actual number of people who have received a COVID-19 vaccination. This is based on individual vaccination records (administrative data held by each nation). Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey estimates are not the same as the figures in the UK coronavirus dashboard and there may be differences between our modelled estimates and these official figures, which are updated more regularly.

Opinions and Lifestyle Survey

The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey estimates the proportion of people with positive vaccine sentiment. This is the percentage of adults reporting they have now either received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or would be likely (very or fairly likely) to have a vaccine if offered. This includes adults who have accepted and are waiting to receive a vaccine.

The survey does not include adults living in care homes or other establishments so will not capture vaccinations in these settings. Because of small sample sizes, the percentage of adults who have declined the vaccine should be treated with caution.

Lifestyle and well-being

Opinions and Lifestyle Survey

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey was adapted to collect data on the social impacts of the pandemic. It provides insight into how people's personal, home and work lives have changed through the pandemic. It also includes impact of the pandemic on people's well-being and the communities in which they live. The data shows these impacts among different parts of our society, for example, on people of different age, sex, health or from regions.

Data are collected using an online self-completion questionnaire. Individuals who did not want to or were unable to complete the survey online had the opportunity to take part over the phone. The results are weighted to be a representative sample for Great Britain.

Further information on survey sampling, collection and weighting is presented in the weekly bulletin.

Understanding Society: COVID-19 Study, 2020

Some of our analysis of the impact of COVID-19 by ethnicity uses data from Wave 1 (April 2020) of the Understanding Society: COVID-19 Study, 2020. For this study, participants from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) aged 16 years and over were invited to take part, via web or telephone, in a new monthly survey measuring the changing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the welfare of UK individuals, families and wider communities. We used data based on the 17,761 participants who completed the web survey in the first wave.

Read more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey methodology.

Student Covid Insights Survey

The Student Covid Insights Survey (SCIS) is a pilot study on the behaviours, plans, opinions and well-being of higher education students in England during the coronavirus pandemic, conducted by the Office for National Statistics. Information has been collected in three rounds in October and November 2020.

Findings from this and other studies on similar topics in England have been outlined in Coronavirus and the impact on students in higher education in England: September to December 2020.

COVID-19 Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey

The COVID-19 Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey is designed to understand self-isolation experiences of people who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Respondents who are at or nearing the end of their 10-day self-isolation period are randomly selected using the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace. The survey is produced, run and analysed in collaboration between the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Work

Business Insights and Conditions Survey

Data from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) captures businesses' views on financial performance, workforce, prices, trade, and business resilience in the UK. The survey is a voluntary, fortnightly survey that records how businesses have been affected over a two-week reference period. Estimates from BICS are not official statistics.

Annual Population Survey

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is the annual version of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a large representative survey of households in the UK. Most results refer to employees and the self-employed combined. Questions on the APS relating to homeworking did not change in 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This may or may not have aided the consistency of the data, since interpretation of the question may have changed. Homeworking statuses were defined using variables on the survey.

ONS data in the Latest insights tool


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey
Dataset | Updated weekly
Findings from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the community in England
Dataset | Updated biweekly
Characteristics of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England taken from the COVID-19 Infection Survey.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, antibody and vaccination data, UK
Dataset | Updated fortnightly
Antibody and vaccination data by UK country and regions in England from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey. This analysis has been produced 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.

Coronavirus and vaccine hesitancy, Great Britain
Dataset | Updated monthly
Estimates of vaccine sentiment with breakdowns by different population groups. Analysis based on the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK
Dataset | Released on 1 July 2021
Estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of people with self-reported long COVID, and associated activity limitation, using UK Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey data.

COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey
Dataset | Released 1 July 2021
Initial estimates of staff and pupils testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) from the COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey across a sample of schools, within high and low prevalence local authority areas in England

Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Updated weekly
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available. Includes the most up-to-date figures available for deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Monthly mortality analysis
Dataset | Updated monthly
Provisional death registration data for England and Wales, broken down by sex, age and country. Includes deaths due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and leading causes of death.

Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain
Dataset | Updated weekly
Indicators from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) measuring the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain. Includes breakdowns by age, sex, underlying health condition, region and country.

Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England
Dataset | Updated monthly
Behaviour of individuals required to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, from the COVID-19 Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey. Includes information on the impact of self-isolation on well-being and finances. Experimental Statistics.

Coronavirus and self-isolation after being in contact with a positive case in England
Dataset | Updated monthly
Behaviour of individuals required to self-isolate after being in contact with a positive case of COVID-19, from the COVID-19 Test and Trace Contacts Insights Survey. Includes information on the impact of self-isolation on wellbeing and finances. Experimental Statistics.

Coronavirus and higher education students
Dataset | Released 17 June 2021
Experimental statistics from a pilot of the Student Covid Insights Study. Includes information on the behaviours, plans, opinions and well-being of higher education students in England in the context of guidance on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Coronavirus and clinically extremely vulnerable people in England
Dataset | Updated monthly
Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from the COVID High Risk Group Insights Study. Includes information on their behaviours and well-being since receiving shielding guidance.

Other ONS data


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reacted to the coronavirus (COVID-19) by creating lots of additional content to help the public understand the pandemic. The COVID-19 latest insights tool brings together the most relevant of these, but there are several other releases for instance on economic impacts or deaths by local area and socioeconomic background. You can view all publications related to COVID-19.

Devolved nations and coverage

The ONS’s main responsibilities are collecting, analysing and disseminating statistics about the UK's economy, society and population. We are committed to producing information at a UK level. However, some policy areas are devolved to the UK nations and as such, data are produced and published by the devolved nations themselves. The ONS needs to seek permission to provide these data as part of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The devolved nations have their own websites with detailed information and statistics on the coronavirus.

Related links


UK Government COVID-19 dashboard
Web page | Updated daily
The official UK government website for data and insights on the coronavirus (COVID-19). Provides latest daily data on infections, vaccinations and health outcomes and includes latest information on restrictions in your area.

National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports
UK Health Security Agency report | Updated weekly
National flu and COVID-19 report, monitoring COVID-19 activity, seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses.

Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission study findings
Web page | Updated as and when data become available
REACT is a research programme looking at how the virus is spreading across the country. The study was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and carried out by Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Ipsos MORI.

View all data used in this article