Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Community prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in England: Results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey Pilot

Summary of methodology

 

28 September - characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19 in England, including positivity trends over time in different subgroups

  • Between 23 July and 10 September, COVID-19 Infection rates have increased primarily in the least deprived areas within each region.

  • Positivity rates have increased over time amongst those aged under 35 years who had socially-distanced direct contact with six or more people aged 18 to 69 years, suggesting socially-distanced direct contact in younger age groups is an increasingly important factor in contracting COVID-19.

  • In recent weeks, COVID-19 positivity rates have been higher amongst people who have travelled abroad, although increases are seen in both those who have and have not travelled.

  • There is no evidence that working location is driving the greater increase in positivity rate in younger age groups in recent weeks.

  • There is evidence that Asian or Asian British individuals were more likely to have ever tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test than White individuals, suggesting they were more likely to have had COVID-19 in the past.

25 September - weekly update

  • An estimated 103,600 people (95% credible interval: 85,600 to 123,400) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 13 to 19 September 2020, equating to around 1 in 500 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 600 to 1 in 400). The number of infections has increased in recent weeks.

    • In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17 to 24 years age group. 

    • There is evidence of higher infection rates in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, London and North East; both West and East Midlands are recently showing a small increase.

  • During the most recent week (13 to 19 September 2020), we estimate there were around 1.75 (95% credible interval: 1.31 to 2.30) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day in the community population in England, equating to around 9,600 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 7,100 to 12,600). The incidence rate for England has increased in recent weeks.

  • In England, between 26 April and 08 September, 6.2% of people tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test, suggesting they had the infection in the past; the percentage of people testing positive for antibodies is higher in London than in the East Midlands, the South East and the South West of England.

  • During the most recent week (13 to 19 September 2020), we estimate that 10,800 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 4,400 to 20,200), equating to 1 in 300 people (95 % credible interval: 1 in 700 to 1 in 200).

  • We have extended the survey to Northern Ireland; during the most recent two weeks (6 to 19 September 2020), we estimate that 0.35% of people in Northern Ireland had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.11% to 0.84%), which is around 1 in 300 people (95 % credible interval: 1 in 900 to 1 in 100).

18 September - weekly update

  • An estimated 59,800 people (95% credible interval: 46,900 to 75,200) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 4 to 10 September 2020, equating to around 1 in 900 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 1,200 to 1 in 700). The estimate shows the number of infections has increased in recent weeks.
    • In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 aged 2 to 11 years, 17 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years.
    • There is evidence of higher infection rates in the North West and London.
  • During the most recent week (4 to 10 September 2020), we estimate there were around 1.10 (95% credible interval: 0.77 to 1.51) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day in the community population in England, equating to around 6,000 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 4,200 to 8,300). The estimates show that the incidence rate for England has increased in recent weeks.
  • During the most recent week (4 to 10 September 2020), we estimate that 1,500 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 400 to 3,900), which is around 1 in 2,000 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 8,200 to 1 in 800).

11 September - weekly update

  • An estimated 39,700 people (95% credible interval: 29,300 to 52,700) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 30 August to 5 September 2020, equating to around 1 in 1,400 people (95% credible interval: 1 in 1,900 to 1 in 1,000). The most recent modelled estimate suggests the number of infections has increased in recent weeks.
  • In recent weeks, there has been an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 aged 17 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years whereas the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 aged 50 years and over appears to be stable or declining.
  • During the most recent week (30 August to 5 September 2020), we estimate there were around 0.58 (95% credible interval: 0.38 to 0.84) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day in the community population in England, equating to around 3,200 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 2,000 to 4,600). Evidence suggests that the incidence rate for England has increased in recent weeks.
  • During the most recent week (30 August to 5 September 2020), we estimate that 1,200 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 300 to 2,800), which is around 1 in 2,600 people (95 % credible interval: 1 in 10,900 to 1 in 1,100).

4 September 2020 - weekly update

  • An estimated 27,100 people (95% credible interval: 19,300 to 36,700) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 19 to 25 August 2020, equating to around 1 in 2,000 individuals (95% credible interval: 1 in 2,800 to 1 in 1,500). There is some evidence of a small increase in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in July, following a low point in June, which has continued to level off.

  • During the most recent week (19 to 25 August 2020), we estimate there were around 0.36 (95% credible interval: 0.21 to 0.58) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day in the community population in England, equating to around 2,000 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 1,100 to 3,200). Evidence suggests that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged.

  • Between 26 April and 23 August, 6.0% of people tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test, suggesting they had the infection in the past; the percentage of people testing positive for antibodies is higher in London than in the East Midlands, South East and South West of England.

  • During the most recent week (19 to 25 August 2020), we estimate that 1,400 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 400 to 3,500), which is around 1 in 2,200 people (95 % credible interval: 1 in 8,300 to 1 in 900).

28 August 2020 - weekly update

  • An estimated 28,200 people (95% credible interval: 20,100 to 37,900) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 14 to 20 August 2020, equating to around 1 in 1,900 individuals. There is some evidence of a small increase in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in July, following a low point in June, but this continues to level off.

  • During the most recent week (14 to 20 August 2020), we estimate there were around 0.40 (95% credible interval: 0.21 to 0.69) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day in the community population in England, equating to around 2,200 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 1,100 to 3,800). There is not enough evidence to say at this point that there has been a fall in incidence in the most recent week, therefore we continue to report that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged.

  • During the most recent week (14 to 20 August 2020), we estimate that 1,100 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 200 to 2,700), which is around 1 in 2,800 people.

21 August 2020 - weekly update

  • An estimated 24,600 people (95% credible interval: 16,900 to 33,800) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 7 to 13 August 2020, equating to around 1 in 2,200 individuals. There is some evidence of a small increase in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in July, following a low point in June, but this appears to have now levelled off.

  • During the most recent week (7 to 13 August 2020), we estimate there were around 0.44 (95% credible interval: 0.22 to 0.76) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people per day in the community population in England, equating to around 2,400 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 1,200 to 4,200). There is not enough evidence to say at this point that there has been a fall in incidence in the most recent week, therefore we continue to report that the incidence rate for England has levelled off.

  • During the most recent week (7 to 13 August 2020), we estimate that 1,300 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 400 to 2,900), which is around 1 in 2,400 people.

Characteristics of people testing positive for the coronavirus - 18 August 2020

  • There is evidence that Asian or Asian British individuals were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than White individuals over the most recent eight weeks of the study, and there is also some evidence to suggest a higher percentage of individuals from ethnic minorities have had COVID-19 in the past.

  • Those in one-person households were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 on a nose and throat swab than individuals in two-person households over the latest eight-week period of the study, but there was no evidence of differences for larger households.

  • It is not possible to say whether those working in patient-facing healthcare roles were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than other individuals based on swabs taken over the most recent eight-week period of the study, although there is evidence to suggest this was not the case earlier in our study.

  • A higher percentage of those in patient-facing healthcare roles or resident-facing social care roles tested positive for antibodies, indicating past infection, than individuals not working in these roles.

  • While those who have symptoms are more likely to test positive on nose and throat swabs than those without symptoms, out of those who have ever tested positive for COVID-19 on nose and throat swabs over the whole period of our study just 28% reported any evidence of symptoms around the time of their positive swab test.

  • There is no evidence to suggest differences in the likelihood of people of different ages testing positive for COVID-19 on nose and throat swabs over the most recent eight-week period of the study, but there is some limited evidence to suggest a smaller proportion of older people within community settings test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, indicating they have had COVID-19 in the past.

  • There is no evidence to suggest differences in the likelihood of males and females testing positive for COVID-19 on nose and throat swabs over the most recent eight-week period of the study nor evidence of differences in the percentage of people of either sex testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, indicating they have had COVID-19 in the past.

  • It is not possible to say whether there were differences in the likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19 on a nose and throat swab over the most recent eight-week period of the study based on working location nor whether there were differences in the percentage of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies by working location, indicating they have had COVID-19 in the past.

14 August 2020 - weekly update

  • An estimated 28,300 people (95% credible interval: 19,000 to 40,700) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 3 to 9 August 2020, equating to around 1 in 1,900 individuals. There is some evidence of a small increase in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in July, following a low point in June, but this appears to have now levelled off.

  • During the most recent week (3 to 9 August 2020), we estimate there were around 0.69 (95% credible interval: 0.42 to 1.08) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England, equating to around 3,800 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 2,300 to 5,900). There is evidence that the incidence rate for England has increased in the most recent weeks following a low point in June and appears to have now levelled off.

  • Between 26 April and 26 July, 6.2% of people tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test, suggesting they had the infection in the past. The percentage of people testing positive for antibodies is higher in London than in Yorkshire and The Humber, the East Midlands, the South East and the South West of England.

  • We have extended the survey to Wales; during the most recent week (3 to 9 August 2020), we estimate that 1,500 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 400 to 3,500), which is around 1 in 2,100 people.

7 August 2020 - weekly update

  • An estimated 28,300 people (95% credible interval: 18,900 to 40,800) within the community population in England had the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the most recent week, from 27 July to 2 August 2020, equating to around 1 in 1,900 individuals.
  • Modelling shows rates of people testing positive for COVID-19 have risen since the lowest recorded estimate, which was at the end of June, but there is evidence that this trend may be levelling off when compared with last week’s headline estimate.
  • There is no clear evidence from this survey to say whether COVID-19 infection rates differ by region in England, nor whether infection rates have increased in different regions over the past six weeks.
  • During the most recent week (27 July to 2 August 2020), we estimate there were around 0.68 (95% credible interval: 0.38 to 1.17) new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England, equating to around 3,700 new cases per day.
  • Modelling shows that the incidence rate has increased since the lowest recorded estimate, which was at the end of June, but there is evidence this trend may be levelling off when compared with last week’s headline estimate.
  • We have extended the survey to Wales. During the most recent week (27 July to 2 August 2020), we estimate that 1,400 people in Wales had COVID-19 (95% credible interval: 400 to 3,400). This is around 1 in 2,200 people.

 

31 July 2020 - weekly update

  • An estimated 35,700 people (95% credible interval: 23,700 to 53,200) within the community population in England had COVID-19 during the most recent week, from 20 to 26 July 2020, equating to around 1 in 1,500 individuals. There is now evidence to suggest a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive on a nose and throat swab in recent weeks.
  • There is not enough evidence to say with confidence whether COVID-19 infection rates differ by region in England, nor whether infection rates have increased in different regions over the past six weeks.
  • During the most recent week (20 to 26 July 2020), we estimate there were around 0.78 new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England, equating to around 4,200 new cases per day (95% credible interval: 2,200 to 8,100). Modelling of the rate of new infections over time suggests that there is now some evidence that the incidence of new infections has increased in recent weeks.
  • Between 26 April and 26 July, 6.2% of people tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test, suggesting they had the infection in the past.

 

24 July 2020 - weekly update

  • We estimate around 1 in 2,000 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 within the most recent week, from 13 to 19 July 2020. This equates to an estimated 27,700 people (95% credible interval: 18,500 to 39,900).
  • Modelling of the trend over time suggests that the decline in the number of people in England testing positive on a nose and throat swab has levelled off in recent weeks.
  • During the most recent week (13 to 19 July 2020), we estimate there were around 0.52 new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England, equating to around 2,800 new cases per day (95% confidence interval: 1,500 to 5,500).
  • Modelling of the incidence rate trend suggests that incidence of new infections decreased since mid-May and has now levelled off.

 

17 July 2020 - weekly update

  • We estimate around 1 in 2,300 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 within the most recent week, from 6 July to 12 July 2020. This equates to an estimated 24,000 people (95% credible interval: 15,000 to 34,000).
  • During the most recent week (6 July to 12 July), we estimate there were around two new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals in the community population in England, equating to around 1,700 new cases per day (95% confidence interval: 700 to 4,200).
  • Between 26 April and 8 July, 6.3% of people tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test, suggesting they had the infection in the past.

 

Characteristics of those testing positive on a nose and throat swab: 7 July 2020

  • Individuals working outside the home show higher rates of positive swab tests than those who work from home.
  • Over the study period, infection rates are higher for those working in patient-facing healthcare or resident-facing social care roles than for people not working in these roles.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that infection rates are lower in one- and two-person households than in larger households.
  • While those who have symptoms are more likely to test positive than those without symptoms, out of those within our study who have ever tested positive for COVID-19, 33% reported any evidence of symptoms around the time of their positive swab test.
  • There is evidence to suggest that infection rates are higher among people who have reported coming into recent contact with a known case of the coronavirus than those who have had no reported contact with potential cases.
  • It is too early to say whether COVID-19 infection rates differ between ethnic groups because the number of people testing positive in groups other than the White ethnic group are very small, although antibody test results provide an indication that individuals identifying as White are less likely to have had COVID-19 in the past than non-white ethnic groups.

 

9 July 2020 - weekly update

  • We estimate that an average of 1 in 3,900 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 at any given time between 22 June and 5 July 2020. This equates to an estimated average of 14,000 people (95% confidence interval: 5,000 to 31,000) within the community in England having COVID-19 between 22 June and 5 July 2020.
  • Modelling of the trend over time suggests that the decline in the number of people in England testing positive on a nose and throat swab has levelled off in recent weeks.
  • Modelling of the incidence rate trend over time suggests that incidence of new infections appears to have decreased since mid-May and has now levelled off.
  • During the 14-day period from 22 June to 5 July 2020, there were an estimated two new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals per week in the community population in England, equating to an estimated 1,700 new cases per day (95% confidence interval: 700 to 3,700).

 

2 July 2020 - weekly update

  • We estimate that an average of 1 in 2,200 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 at any given time between 14 June and 27 June 2020. This equates to an estimated average of 25,000 people (95% confidence interval: 12,000 to 44,000) within the community in England having COVID-19 between 14 June and 27 June 2020.
  • Modelling of the trend over time suggests that the decline in the number of people in England testing positive has levelled off in recent weeks.
  • Regional analysis showed a reduction in people testing positive for COVID-19 in previous weeks; these trends appear to be levelling off.
  • During the 14-day period from 14 June to 27 June 2020, there were an estimated five new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals per week in the community population in England, equating to an estimated 25,000 new cases per week (95% confidence interval: 13,000 to 46,000).
  • Modelling of the incidence rate trend over time suggests that incidence appears to have decreased between mid-May and early June 2020, but it has also since levelled off.
  • Of those individuals providing blood samples, 6.3% tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 4.7% to 8.1%); this equates to 1 in 16 people or 2.8 million people in England.

 

25 June 2020 - weekly update

  • We estimate that an average of 1 in 1,100 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 at any given time between 8 June and 21 June 2020.
  • An estimated average of 51,000 people (95% confidence interval: 21,000 to 105,000) within the community in England had COVID-19 between 8 June and 21 June 2020.
  • Modelling of the trend over time suggests that the decline in the number of people in England testing positive has levelled off in recent weeks.
  • New modelling of the incidence rate trend over time suggests that incidence appears to have decreased between mid-May and early June, but has also since levelled off.
  • During the 14-day period from 8 June to 21 June, there were an estimated 4 new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals per week in the community population in England, equating to an estimated 22,000 new cases per week (95% confidence interval: 10,000 to 49,000).
  • New regional analysis shows a statistically significant reduction in people testing positive for COVID-19 in previous weeks; these trends are now levelling off.

 

18 June 2020 - weekly update

  • We estimate that an average of 1 in 1,700 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 at any given time between 31 May and 13 June 2020.
  • An estimated average of 33,000 people (95% confidence interval: 12,000 to 74,000) within the community in England had COVID-19 between 31 May and 13 June 2020, a clear decrease from the average of 149,000 people infected (95% confidence interval: 75,000 to 264,000) between 3 May and 16 May.
  • Modelling of the trend over time also shows evidence that the number of people in England testing positive has decreased since the study began on 26 April, and suggests that the decline may have slowed in recent weeks.
  • Over the whole period of the study, which began on 26 April, there were an estimated five new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals per week in the community population in England, equating to an estimated 26,900 new cases per week (95% confidence interval: 19,200 to 36,600).
  • Of those individuals providing blood samples, 5.4% tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 4.3% to 6.5%); this equates to around 1 in 19 people.

 

12 June 2020 - weekly update

  • At any given time between 25 May and 7 June 2020, we estimated that an average of 0.06% of the community population had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.02% to 0.12%); this equates to an average of 33,000 people in England (95% confidence interval: 14,000 to 68,000).
  • Modelling of the trend over time shows evidence that the number of people in England testing positive has decreased.
  • There were an estimated 31,600 new COVID-19 infections per week in England (95% confidence interval: 22,200 to 43,500) between 26 April and 7 June 2020, equating to an incidence rate per week of 0.06 new cases per 100 people.

 

5 June 2020 - weekly update

  • At any given time between 17 May and 30 May 2020, we estimated that an average of 0.10% of the community population had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.05% to 0.18%); this equates to an average of 53,000 people in England (95% confidence interval: 25,000 to 99,000).
    • Modelling of the trend over time shows evidence that the number of people in England testing positive has decreased in recent weeks.
  • Individuals working outside the home show higher rates of positive tests than those who work from home.
  • Patient-facing healthcare workers and resident-facing social care workers show higher rates of positive tests than people not working in these roles.
  • While those who have symptoms are more likely to test positive than those without symptoms, out of those within our study who have ever tested positive for COVID-19, 29% reported any evidence of symptoms at the time of the visit or at either the preceding or following visit.
  • There were an estimated 39,000 new COVID-19 infections per week in England (95% confidence interval: 26,000 to 55,000) between 26 April and 30 May 2020, equating to an incidence rate per week of 0.07 new cases per 100 people.

 

28 May 2020  - weekly update

  • At any given time between 11 May and 24 May 2020, we estimated that an average of 0.24% of the community population had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.11% to 0.46%). This equates to an average of 133,000 people in England (95% confidence interval: 62,000 to 250,000); a similar level to the previous estimate indicating that the number of people with COVID-19 is relatively stable.
  • Patient-facing healthcare workers and resident-facing social care workers show higher rates of positive tests than people not working in these roles.
  • Individuals working outside the home show higher rates of positive tests than those who work from home.
  • While those who have symptoms are more likely to test positive than those without symptoms, out of those within our study who have ever tested positive for COVID-19, 21% reported any symptoms on the day of testing, and 30% around the time of testing.
  • There were an estimated 54,000 new COVID-19 infections per week in England (95% confidence interval: 34,000 to 86,000), a similar level to the previous estimate indicating that the number of new COVID-19 infections is relatively stable; this equates to an incidence rate per week of 0.10 new cases per 100 people.
  • Of those individuals providing blood samples, 6.78% (unweighted) tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 5.21% to 8.64%); this equates to around 1 in 15 people.

 

21 May 2020 - weekly update

  • At any given time between 4 May and 17 May 2020, it is estimated that an average of 0.25% of the community population had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.16% to 0.38%),
  • This equates to an average of 137,000 people in England (95% confidence interval: 85,000 to 208,000); a similar level to the previous estimate indicating that the number of people with COVID-19 is relatively stable.
  • There were an estimated 61,000 new COVID-19 infections per week in England (95% confidence interval: 29,000 to 111,000); the incidence rate per week was 0.11 new cases per 100 people.
  • There is no evidence of differences in the proportions testing positive between men and women, or between the age categories 2 to 11, 12 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 69 and 70 years and over. There is no evidence of a difference between the proportions testing positive for patient-facing healthcare or resident-facing social care roles and people not working in these roles.

 

14 May 2020 - weekly update

  • Between 27 April and 10 May 2020, we estimated that an average of 0.27% of those living in private households in England had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.17% to 0.41%), corresponding to an average of 148,000 people in England (95% confidence interval: 94,000 to 222,000).
  • 10,705 participants’ swab test results were included in this analysis; 33 individuals in 30 households tested positive for COVID-19. The figures do not include people in hospital or care homes where rates of COVID-19 infection are likely to be higher.
  • We found higher rates in those working in patient-facing healthcare or resident-facing social care roles, but no evidence of differences in the proportions testing positive between the age categories of 2 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 69 and 70 years and over.

 

10 May 2020 - weekly update

  • Between 26 April and 8 May 2020, we estimated that an average of 0.24% of those living in private households in England had COVID-19 (95% confidence interval: 0.14% to 0.40%), corresponding to an average of 136,000 people in England (95% confidence interval: 76,000 to 225,000).
  • 7087 participants’ swab test results were included in this analysis.