Latest Winter CIS Data | UKHSA and ONS Report on COVID-19 Prevalence

In November 2023, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) jointly launched the Winter Community Infection Survey (CIS) to provide real-time prevalence and positivity data, aiding the surveillance of COVID-19 in the community and understanding winter pressures on the NHS.

The study, encompassing approximately 150,000 participants in England and Scotland, gathers data through self-reported lateral flow device (LFD) results and questionnaire responses, generating up to 30,000 LFD test results weekly.

The latest report reveals an estimated prevalence of 4.2% across the total population in England and Scotland, signifying that around 1 in every 24 people could test positive for COVID-19 at the present moment. Notably, prevalence rates were highest among individuals aged 18 to 44 years, with London experiencing the highest regional prevalence.

UKHSA emphasizes the importance of eligible individuals getting a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine before the window closes on 31 January 2024. Eligibility criteria include being aged 65 years or over (by 31 March 2024), being aged 6 months to 64 years and at increased risk, residing in a care home for older adults, being a frontline health or social care worker, being aged 16 to 64 years and a carer, or being aged 12 to 64 years and living with someone with a weakened immune system.

Professor Steven Riley, Director General for Data and Surveillance at UKHSA, notes that although the main vaccine delivery program has concluded, individuals may still be able to book a COVID-19 vaccine with a local NHS vaccination service or find a walk-in site. The deadline for receiving the seasonal COVID-19 vaccine is 31 January 2024.

At this time of year, the cold weather, shorter days and increased socialising mean that the potential for transmission of respiratory viruses like COVID-19 is particularly high. This, as well as the possible impact of new variants, means it’s not unexpected to see cases increasing.

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses, you should try to limit your contact with other people as much as possible, especially those who are older or more vulnerable.

It’s important that those people who are most at risk of severe illness and hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19 come forward for their seasonal vaccination to make sure they have the best possible protection this winter. You can get a vaccine through your GP, by booking with a local NHS vaccination service, or you can find a COVID-19 vaccination walk-in site.”

Post-Christmas, UKHSA and ONS plan to release the next set of Winter CIS results on 11 January, followed by another report on 18 January, with subsequent reports reverting to a fortnightly schedule.

UKHSA’s estimates of prevalence, based on the same underlying data as ONS’s positivity numbers, account for the LFD assay’s known sensitivity and the composition of the study cohort.

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