Covid data publication 'no longer necessary' after vaccine success

The UK Health Security Agency said the successful vaccine programme meant it was no longer necessary to publish weekly updates.

UK Covid data to stop being published in early January after success of vaccine iStock

Modelling data on Coronavirus will not be published early in the New Year after UK health chiefs deemed the data “no longer necessary“.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the success of the vaccine rollout meant the R range and growth rate did not need to be publicised on a fortnightly basis.

The figures, which showed how many people could be infected by one case of the virus and how fast it would spread, have been released since May 2020 for all of the UK, until April 2021, when it was published for England only.

The UKHSA Epidemiology Modelling Review Group (EMRG) said following a detailed review, the next publication of its consensus statement on Covid-19 on January 6 “would be the last”.

It said Covid-19 incidence data will continue to be accessible from the Office for National Statistics infection survey.

Dr Nick Watkins, chairman of the EMRG, said: “During the pandemic, the R value and growth rate served as a useful and simple indicator to inform public health action and Government decisions.

“Now that vaccines and therapeutics have allowed us to move to a phase where we are living with Covid-19, with surveillance scaled down but still closely monitored through a number of different indicators, the publication of this specific data is no longer necessary.”

He added: “We continue to monitor Covid-19 activity in a similar way to how we monitor a number of other common illnesses and diseases.

“All data publications are kept under constant review and this modelling data can be reintroduced promptly if needed, for example, if a new variant of concern was to be identified.”

In Scotland, there were 872 patients in hospital with Covid in the week ending December 18, 13 of whom were in intensive care units.

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