Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
29 July 2021

The fall in UK Covid-19 cases isn’t due to less testing

The number of Covid-19 cases in England fell by a third in a week, while the number of PCR tests fell by 12 per cent.

By Katharine Swindells

With many surprised by the fall in UK Covid-19 cases over the last week, some have suggested this is due to a reduction in testing, but analysis of daily testing numbers shows this isn’t the case.

Covid-19 cases in England are decreasing faster than testing rates
Covid-19 cases by date reported, and PCR tests by date published in England, percentage change as compared to previous week, seven-day rolling average

On a week-on-week basis, the number of Covid-19 cases in England is falling faster than the number of PCR tests. If the declining case numbers were attributable to a lack of testing, we would expect to see the opposite.                                   

Just over two million PCR test results were published from 21-27 July, which is a 12.4 per cent decline on the previous seven days. But analysis of Covid-19 cases in the same period shows a much larger decline of 32.4 per cent.

Between 1 June and 20 July, the seven-day PCR positivity rate rose from 1 per cent to a peak of 11.8 per cent, but since then has begun to decline.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up