A data source discovered the declining “R” rate, placing it at 0.9 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this week.
But this is happening before the impact of the latest lockdown restrictions has had time to be fully measured.
The data comes from the ZOE Covid-19 Symptom app. This is not the official measure of the government’s “R” rate – but it is one of many sources for tracking virus transmission.
The anonymized data is funded by the government and analyzed by researchers at King’s College and helps track infections and epidemics across the UK.
It is separate from the NHS Test and Trace app, which is monitored by the government, and the official “R” rate which is released weekly by health authorities.
Testing and tracking data released separately today showed 149,253 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week leading up to November 4.
This is the highest weekly number since the system launched at the end of May and represents an 8% increase in positive cases from the previous week.
The “R” rate is used by scientists to determine how many people each person infected with a coronavirus is likely to spread.
Public health officials have felt pushing the UK ‘R’ below 1 is a vital target for authorities to control the spread of the virus.
The ZOE Covid app lead investigator tweeted the latest research data.
Tim Spector wrote: “Data from today’s ZOE app shows new disease rates are slowly falling below 36k with an R of 0.9 in all countries, but the Midlands are getting worse.
“We anticipate a long delay before deaths go down. We must be wary of diseases that move from the population to hospitals and nursing homes as happened in late spring.
Deaths have increased, although the UK’s four countries have found themselves in some form of second lockdown in recent weeks.
Experts previously explained before the second wave that there is a lag of several weeks between the rise in infection rates and the corresponding rise in deaths.
The daily death toll across the UK took a grim step yesterday.
The deaths rose to 50,000 and another 595 were lost.
England entered their second national lockdown last week, and Wales on Monday dropped their short national ‘firewall’ restrictions.
The lockdown of Northern Ireland, which lasts for weeks, is underway due to a Stormont deadlock on next steps, and the Scottish government is continuing its strict levels system.
As the UK grapples with the second wave of the virus at Winter’s Doorstep, the world has been supported this week by news of a vaccine breakthrough.
The UK government is now preparing to roll out the Pfizer vaccine, which could be ready as early as December or early 2021, according to various reports.
The government has set the NHS a goal of vaccinating one million people per week with the jab.
Ministers say the most vulnerable – including the elderly, nursing home residents, staff and hospital staff – will be leading the queue.