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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will be pausing COVID-19 Infection Survey data collection from mid-March, and as a result the final weekly publication will be published on 24 March. As the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) works to confirm its approach to surveillance, the ONS plans to work with existing participants to continue gathering valuable insight into the experiences of COVID-19, long COVID and other respiratory infections, details of which will be announced in due course. We thank our participants in Wales for their continued support.
Antibody data for Wales is published in a separate release.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) is run across the whole of the UK and aims to estimate:
- how many people have the infection over a given time (positivity)
- how many new cases occur over a given period (incidence)
- how many people have antibodies to COVID-19
The survey helps track the extent of infection and transmission of COVID-19 among people in private residences, referred to as the community population.
Previous estimates can be found in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey datasets (Office for National Statistics (ONS)).
Proportion of people in Wales who had COVID-19
This equates to approximately 1 person in every 45 (95% credible interval: 1 in 60 to 1 in 35), or 68,200 people during this time (95% credible interval: 52,300 to 85,500).
The trend in the percentage of people testing positive in Wales was uncertain in the most recent week.
Since the estimates are based on a relatively low number of positive tests, caution should be taken in over-interpreting any small movements in the latest trend.
Please note that there is a greater lag in data from the infection survey than from other sources such as Public Health Wales.
Estimates for the countries of the UK
At the midpoint of the most recent week (1 to 7 March 2023), the estimated percentage of the community population with COVID-19 across the UK ranged from 1.45% in Northern Ireland to 2.36% in England.
The trend in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 was uncertain in Wales, England and Northern Ireland in the most recent week. The trend decreased in Scotland in the most recent week.
There is some uncertainty around the individual point estimates for the nations. Estimates for the last few days of the series, shown as dashed lines in the chart below, have more uncertainty.
The following table summarises positivity rates across the UK countries.
(95% Credible Interval)
(1.69 to 2.77)
|1 in 45 people
(1 in 60 to 1 in 35)
(52,300 to 85,500)
(2.21 to 2.51)
|1 in 40 people
(1 in 45 to 1 in 40)
(1,241,500 to 1,410,100)
(1.57 to 2.48)
| 1 in 50 people
(1 in 65 to 1 in 40)
(82,600 to 130,600)
(0.85 to 2.22)
|1 in 70 people
(1 in 120 to 1 in 45)
(15,600 to 40,700)
Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, ONS
Cases identified as being compatible with known variants of Covid-19 based on their genetic patterns. Variants of Concern and Variants of Interest have been relabelled by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Further information on the identification of variants in the survey can be found on the ONS website.
This survey covers people living in private households only and this is referred to as the community population. Residents in hospitals, care homes and/or other institutional settings are excluded.
A confidence interval gives an indication of the degree of uncertainty of an estimate, showing the precision of a sample estimate. The 95% confidence intervals are calculated so that if we repeated the study many times, 95% of the time the true unknown value would lie between the lower and upper confidence limits. A wider interval indicates more uncertainty in the estimate. Overlapping confidence intervals indicate that there may not be a true difference between two estimates.
A credible interval gives an indication of the uncertainty of an estimate from data analysis. 95% credible intervals are calculated so that there is a 95% probability of the true value lying in the interval.
The number of new infections over a period of time.
Estimates of positivity from this survey are based on statistical modelling of the underlying data. The model smooths the series to understand the trend and is revised each week to incorporate new test results.
The headline point estimates are based on the modelled trend and reflect the most representative reference point for the given week.
The estimated proportion of people who test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) at a point in time, with or without symptoms, based on nose and throat swabs.
Quality and methodology information
The results of the survey are based on self-administered nose and throat swabs provided by participants to the study. A subgroup of participants also provide blood test, taken by trained field staff.
As well as looking at overall incidence, positivity and antibody level, the survey will be used to examine the characteristics of those testing positive for COVID-19 and the extent to which those infected experience symptoms. The results are for private households only and do not apply to those in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings. This is referred to as the community population.
The survey covers all the countries of the UK, enabling estimates to be calculated for each country individually, and in time the UK as a whole.
When comparing Test and Trace (T&T) and estimates from the COVID-19 Infection Survey it is important to note that T&T provides information on the number of tested people who are positive, while the estimates in this release are based on the total number of people who are currently infected at a particular point in time (prevalence). Estimates from this survey are also based on a random sample of the population, including people who are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic individuals are less likely to go for a test and therefore appear in the T&T data.
Fieldwork started first in England on 26 April 2020 meaning there is more cumulative data available for England enabling more detailed analysis at present. Fieldwork began in Wales on 29 June 2020 followed by Northern Ireland on 26 July 2020 and Scotland on 21 September 2020.
It is important to note that there is a significant degree of uncertainty with the estimates. This is because, despite a large sample of participants, the number of positive cases identified is small. Estimates are provided with 95% credible or confidence intervals to indicate the range within which we may be confident the true figure lies.
The modelled estimates are carried out afresh each week using the previous 6 weeks’ data. The model works by smoothing the series to understand the trend and is revised each week to incorporate new test results. This means that the latest estimate for an earlier period may be different to the official estimate that was produced at the time. Chart 1 shows the latest modelled trend and the official (point) estimates that were published at the time.
ONS publishes weekly statistical bulletins and references tables and periodic statistical articles which include results for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland as they become available. The estimates for Northern Ireland and Scotland are published by the respective administrations, as we do here for Wales.
Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)
The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Act puts in place seven wellbeing goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before Senedd Cymru. Under section 10(8) of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, where the Welsh Ministers revise the national indicators, they must as soon as reasonably practicable (a) publish the indicators as revised and (b) lay a copy of them before the Senedd. These national indicators were laid before the Senedd in 2021. The indicators laid on 14 December 2021 replace the set laid on 16 March 2016.
Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the wellbeing goals and associated technical information is available in the Wellbeing of Wales report.
Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.
24 March 2023