Findings from the latest COVID-19 REACT-1 study published
Findings from the 10th report of REACT-1, one of the country’s largest studies into COVID-19 infections in England, have been published by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.
Over 140,000 volunteers were tested with PCR tests in England between 11 to 30 March to examine the levels of infection in the general population. The latest data shows infections in England have fallen by around 60% since the last REACT report (covering the period between 4 to 23 February), published on 4 March. When compared to the findings from February, the sharpest drops in prevalence were seen in London and the South East.
The study observed that the speed of this decline started to plateau from mid-March, reinforcing the need for everyone to continue to follow the rules as we progress down the roadmap, remembering to follow the hands, face, space and fresh air guidance.
The study also found that the correlation between prevalence of infections and deaths is now diverging, suggesting that infections may have led to fewer deaths since the start of widespread vaccination through the Government’s vaccination programme.
The main findings from the tenth round of the REACT study show:
- During the latest round in March, the study estimates an R number of 1 in England
- Between February and March, national prevalence has dropped by around 60% from 0.49% in February to 0.20% in March
- There were substantial falls in regional prevalence from February to March: in South East from 0.36% in February to 0.07% in March; London from 0.60% to 0.16%; East of England from 0.47% to 0.15%; East Midlands from 0.59% to 0.19%; and North West from 0.69% to 0.31%
- Areas of higher prevalence remain in parts of the North West, and Yorkshire and The Humber
- The highest prevalence in March was in those aged 5 to 12 years at 0.41%, compared with the lowest in those aged 65 to 74 and 75 and over at 0.09%
- Infections may have produced fewer hospitalisations and deaths since the start of widespread vaccination
The vaccine programme continues to expand to protect as many people as possible, and over 37 million doses have been administered across the country so far. The vaccination programme is already having a significant impact on hospitalisations and deaths, with prevalence now lowest in those aged 75 and over.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “We have seen a gratifying fall in infections since our last survey in February, with infections dropping by around 60% overall. This is hugely encouraging and shows we’re headed in the right direction.
“However, in our most recent data there has been a flattening off in the infection rate with an R number now around one. This shows that we need to continue to approach the situation with caution and keep sticking to the rules.”