The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that it will stop publishing regular data on the reproductive rate, or R-value, of the coronavirus as the country shifts towards “living with the virus” and relying on vaccines and therapies.
The R-value, which measures the speed at which the virus spreads, has been published on a fortnightly basis as a monitoring tool. Despite a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in England, the UKHSA stated that the publication of this specific data is no longer necessary and can be reintroduced if necessary, such as in the event of the identification of a new variant of concern. The UK will continue to publish its weekly flu and COVID-19 surveillance report and infection surveys.
“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,” Dr Nick Watkins, chair of the UKHSA Epidemiology Modelling Review Group (EMRG), said in a statement.