1. 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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2. 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 data published fortnightly. The survey is delivered in partnership with University of Oxford, University of Manchester, 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.

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3. Hospital admissions

Hospital data in the Coronavirus COVID-19) latest insights tool cover England. They are provided by 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).

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4. 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.

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5. Society

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.

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6. ONS data used 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) antibody data for the UK
Dataset | Updated biweekly
Antibody data for the UK taken from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey.

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 (COVID-19) related deaths by occupation, England and Wales
Dataset | Released 25 January 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths and age-standardised mortality rates involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by occupational groups, for deaths registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020 in England and Wales. Figures are provided for males and females.

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.

Social behaviours during the different lockdown periods of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Dataset | Released 5 February 2020
Exploring the social impacts on behaviours during the different lockdown periods of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK. Data are from March 2020 to January 2021.

Coronavirus and the social impacts on different ethnic groups in the UK
Dataset | Released 14 December 2020
Estimates from the Understanding Society: COVID-19 study, 2020, UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) and Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) to explore the social impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people from different ethnic groups in the UK.

Coronavirus and higher education students
Dataset | Released 9 December 2020
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.

COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey
Dataset | Released 9 December 2020
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.

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7. 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.

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