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Scientific evidence that informed UK Government’s response to COVID-19

1 June 2021

Scientific evidence that was used to inform the UK government’s key policies impacting millions of people during the first wave of COVID-19 including the rule of six and the first national stay-at-home order was published on 31 May in the journal of the Royal Society. The Special Theme issue is compiled and guest edited by SPI-M scientists including infectious disease modellers Drs Ellen Brooks Pollock and Leon Danon at the University of Bristol.

The issue contains modelling work that was presented to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) modelling subgroup, known as SPI-M (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling) between January and July 2020 to help predict COVID-19 spread, hospitalisations and mortality rates.
Research led by Dr Ellen Brooks-Pollock entitled 'Healthcare seeking behaviour and contact patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic: informing predictive modelling’ was funded by Bristol's Elizabeth Blackwell Institute.
Mathematical modelling studies detailed in this Special Theme issue were produced in response to policy questions and the rapidly changing epidemiological situation with new evidence continually emerging around infection patterns, variants and asymptomatic transmission. The issue provides insight into the knowns, unknowns and often complex trade-offs involved in understanding and controlling an infectious disease including some of the first estimates of the reproduction number, determining whether a new variant is causing more hospitalisations or deaths and the effectiveness of different testing strategies on virus transmission and suppression.
The issue includes 20 pivotal studies that were each presented at SPI-M between January and July 2020 and were used to inform the following policy implementations:
The first lockdown in March 2020
The re-opening of schools in June 2020
The introduction of support “bubbles”
Shielding of vulnerable individuals
The rule of six
Contact tracing
Estimating the R number and doubling times
Hospital and care home transmission
Royal Society Special Theme issue
'Modelling that shaped the early COVID-19 pandemic response in the UK' by Ellen Brooks-Pollock, Leon Danon, Thibaut Jombart and Lorenzo Pellis in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B [open access].
For the full story visit the University of Bristol website.
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