Coronavirus ‘R’ rate could be as low as 0.5 outside of hospitals, SAGE scientists say – The Sun

NEWLY released documents have revealed that the "R" rate of coronavirus in the UK is far lower than previously published.

The "R" rate, also known as the reproduction number, has been estimated to be between .5 and .9

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Scientists and government officials have been using the "R" value to help them determine how to tackle the spread of Covid-19 and easing of lockdown measures.

Government scientists have refused to break down the reproduction value into separate numbers for community, hospitals and care homes during the daily press briefings.

But the secret documents have shown that in the community as a whole the "R" rate is much closer to 0.5

The national average has been inflated by the huge number of infections in hospitals and care homes.

The Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, said that cases of infections in care homes and hospitals are pushing up the overall R number.

The admission may provide some comfort to those fearful of becoming infected who are outside of hospitals and care home settings.

The real community number has shown that the spread of the disease is not as alarming as the overall figure would suggest.


R0, or R nought, refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.

Scientists use it to predict how far and how fast a disease will spread – and the number can also inform policy decisions about how to contain an outbreak.

For example, if a virus has an R0 of three, it means that every sick person will pass the disease on to three other people if no containment measures are introduced.

It's also worth pointing out that the R0 is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly.

A large number of papers were released late yesterday afternoon including the minutes of 34 of the SAGE committee's meetings since they began meeting on the virus in January.

Minutes of the SAGE meeting on May 5 said: "The overall epidemic can be considered as three separate but interacting epidemics: In the community; in hospitals and in care homes.

"The overall reproduction number, R, is in the range 0.5 to 0.9. If health and social care settings are excluded it is likely to be at the lower end of this range."

Further documents released by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling warn that up to 90 per cent of care homes could be infected with Covid-19.

Numbers released by Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission two weeks ago found that four in ten homes had been infected with the virus so far.

But the scientists on this group warned that "a figure approaching 90 per cent cannot be ruled out if current trends are maintained".

The document was written April 20 when the virus infections rates continued to rise in care homes across the UK.

Minutes from a meeting in February suggest the differing in opinions from the scientists and government officials.

The minutes from that meeting suggested that the public would react with "complacency and scepticism…until the first confirmed domestic fatality".

On March 3, a SAGE meeting said there was "no evidence that cancelling large events would be effective" and closing bars and restaurants "would have an effect, but would be very difficult to implement".

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