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UK to stop publishing Covid R number as cases fall

file photo: vaccination clinic at belfast central fire station in northern ireland

Britain will stop publishing the Covid-19 R number that measures how quickly the disease is spreading among the population, saying on Monday it was not needed anymore thanks to vaccines and drugs.

The R number, or “reproduction number”, has been a staple of coronavirus data bulletins in the last three years. An R value of greater than 1 indicates that Covid-19 cases are increasing. An R number of 2, for example, means a person with Covid-19 will infect two other people.

“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,” UK Health Security Agency Chief Data Scientist Nick Watkins said in a statement.

The R range for England was 1-1.2 as of Friday, the final release of such data. Although Covid-19 cases have been increasing in the last few weeks, they are significantly lower than during a peak in July of around 30,000 cases a day in England alone.

“All data publications are kept under constant review and this modelling data can be reintroduced promptly if needed, for example, if a new Variant of Concern was to be identified,” Watkins added.

Britain will continue to publish its weekly flu and Covid-19 surveillance report and infection surveys.

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