REACT-1 round 6 updated report: high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 swab positivity with reduced rate of growth in England at the start of November 2020
Riley S., Ainslie K., Eales O., Walters C., Wang H., Atchison C., Fronterre C., Diggle P., Ashby D., Donnelly C., Cooke G., Barclay W., Ward H., Darzi A., Elliott P.
Background England is now in the midst of its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple regions of the country are at high infection prevalence and all areas experienced rapid recent growth of the epidemic during October 2020. Methods REACT-1 is a series of community surveys of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR swab-positivity in England designed to monitor the spread of the epidemic and thus increase situational awareness. Round 6 of REACT-1 commenced swab-collection on 16th October. A prior interim report included data from 16th to 25th October for 85,971 participants. Here, we report data for the entire round on 160,175 participants with swab results obtained up to 2nd November 2020. Results Overall weighted prevalence of infection in the community in England was 1.3% or 130 people per 10,000 infected, up from 60 people per 10,000 in the round 5 report (18th September to 5th October 2020), doubling every 24 days on average since the prior round. The corresponding R number was estimated to be 1.2. Prevalence of infection was highest in North West (2.4%, up from 1.2%), followed by Yorkshire and The Humber (2.3% up from 0.84%), West Midlands (1.6% up from 0.60%), North East (1.5% up from 1.1%), East Midlands (1.3% up from 0.56%), London (0.97%, up from 0.54%), South West (0.80% up from 0.33%), South East (0.69% up from 0.29%), and East of England (0.69% up from 0.30%). Rapid growth in the South observed in the first half of round 6 was no longer apparent in the second half of round 6. We also observed a decline in prevalence in Yorkshire and The Humber during this period. Comparing the first and second halves of round 6, there was a suggestion of decline in weighted prevalence in participants aged 5 to 12 years and in those aged 25 to 44 years. While prevalence remained high, in the second half of round 6 there was suggestion of a slight fall then rise that was seen nationally and also separately in both the North and the South. Conclusion The impact of the second national lockdown in England is not yet known. We provide here a detailed description of swab-positivity patterns at national, regional and local scales for the period immediately preceding lockdown, against which future trends in prevalence can be evaluated.