How low are infection levels?

The level of infection in the UK has fallen significantly from the highs of early April. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that only 1 person in 1700 currently has the virus which means, at an individual level, the risks of catching Covid-19 are very low. This is clearly great news but if we look at case data from countries in the EU, we are far higher than all of them.

Cases per million

These countries had waited until infection levels were far lower than we did before they eased restrictions. This is because the higher the level of infection, the greater the risk of a widespread and rapid outbreak. As an individual it may appear much safer now, but that does not mean as a society it is also true, and so our individual risk might quickly rise again if easing restrictions leads to a rise in R.

If we look across the world, there are places with far worse infection levels. These are the countries with policies of very limited restriction and gives an idea of what the results of those policies are.

Cases per million

The US initially attempted to bring down infections with some form of lockdown, but some States gave up on this approach in early May and reopened despite levels of infection remaining high. In the US there are vast differences between States according to their policies and timing of first cases, with places such as New York seeing declines down to UK with others still seeing rising levels.

Cases per million

The chart below looks at Texas, Florida and Arizona together, a combined population of just below the UK. Case numbers in May were similar to the levels we see currently in the UK, and since reopening in May you can see the result with a rise to 10 thousand per day and rising ever more rapidly.

This is exactly what the UK needs to avoid.

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