New figures released by the ONS also put the number of daily infections far lower than Imperial’s figures.
The ONS estimates that 568,100 people are currently infected, with 51,900 new cases each day – equating to around one in 100 people, up from 1 in 130 people in the previous week.
Although the ONS figures show the virus is accelerating, increasing by just under 50 per cent in a week, the doubling time is still between 12 and 14 days, far less than Imperial’s rate.
The latest nowcasting data from Cambridge University’s MRC Biostatistics Unit estimates there are 55,600 new daily infections, while Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) believes the figures are between 50,000 and 63,000.
There is also widespread disagreement on the current ‘R’ rate, with Imperial suggesting it is around 1.6 for England but King’s saying it is closer to 1.1. Sage also believes the ‘R’ rate is between 1.1 and 1.3. The figures, produced by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) group, are lower than last week when they stood at between 1.2 and 1.4.
A source close to the Government science team said the lower rates could mean that some of the new restrictions were having an impact. However, they said the virus was still growing at an alarming rate.
“The numbers are still headed in the wrong direction,” the source said. “It still means everything is growing. It probably implies some of the measures are having an effect, but this is far from a shrinking epidemic.”