Publication - Research and analysis

Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic (issue no. 4)

Published: 11 Jun 2020

Latest findings in modelling the COVID-19 epidemic in Scotland, both in terms of the spread of the disease through the population (epidemiological modelling) and of the demands it will place on the system, for example in terms of health care requirement.

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Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic (issue no. 4)
Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic in Scotland (Issue No. 4)

10 page PDF

355.6 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic in Scotland (Issue No. 4)

Background

This is an update on the Scottish Government modelling of the spread and level of Covid-19. This updates the previous publication on modelling the spread and level of Covid-19 in Scotland published on the 4 June 2020. The estimates in this document help the Scottish Government, the health service and the wider public sector plan and put in place what is needed to keep us safe and treat people who have virus, e.g. to decide how many Intensive Care Beds (ICU) we need available for Covid patients.

Key Points

  • Modelling of the epidemic in Scotland is undertaken to look at the progression of the epidemic and to inform logistical response required.
  • This is done over two time periods. Short term, for the next two weeks, and longer term. Both these help to forecast Covid-19, which helps the public sector in Scotland plan their response and helps determine if the measures in place are working.
  • We use the value of R to talk about Covid-19 in Scotland. Up to the 4 June, R in Scotland was estimated to be between 0.6 & 0.8.
  • The modelling shows that the number of infectious people, the number of cases, hospital and ICT use and deaths are all likely to continue to fall over the next two weeks.
  • These forecasts were based on estimates of moving in to phase 1 guidance implemented from 29 May. However, due to the time associated with disease progression data used for the forecasting the data do not reflect changes associated with moving in to phase 1. The longer term forecasts will be closely monitored against actual cases over the next few weeks as the situation changes.

What the modelling tells us

Figure 1 shows how Rt has changed since February. Before the "stay at home" restrictions were put in place Rt was above 1, and most likely to have been between 4 and 6 before any interventions were put in place.

The model estimates the Rt value for Friday 5 June to be between 0.65 and 0.75.

Figure 1: Trends in R t for Scotland, 2020
Figure 1. A graph showing the trends in the Rt value for Scotland over time, as calculated by the model. The graph show step changes downwards at the point when each intervention was introduced. This figure shows Rt to fall below 1.0 on the 23rd of March, when the “stay at home” advice was given.

Source: Scottish Government modelled estimates using Imperial College model code,
Source: Actual data from https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/weekly-and-monthly-data-on-births-and-deaths/deaths-involving-coronavirus-covid-19-in-scotland

The Rt value estimated by the Scottish Government falls within the range of values estimated by other modelling groups and considered by SPI-M and SAGE (Figure 2). SAGE's consensus view , as of 4 June, was that the value of Rt in Scotland was between 0.6 and 0.8.

Figure 2. Estimates of R t for Scotland as of the 4 June, including 90% confidence intervals, produced by SAGE. The estimate produced by the Scottish Government is 6 from left (pink), while the SAGE consensus range is the right-most (black).
Figure 2. A graph showing the point estimates and ranges of R values produced by the Scottish Government as well as the different academic modelling groups represented at the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) Committee, along with a point showing the consensus value and range produced by the group. Points range between 0.6 and 0.8, while the spread of ranges extend from 0.5 to 1.1.

Source: Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The Scottish Government's epidemiological model estimates the number of infectious people in Scotland on 5 June to be around 4,500 (see Table 1). Forecasts indicate this number will decline over the following two weeks, and are promising, but is still at a level that could cause risk to the health service if onwards transmission rose rapidly. This figure is lower than was forecast previously based on PHS data, and reflects the fact that the number of deaths last week was lower than previously forecasted.

Table 1: Estimated number of infectious people in Scotland
Estimated Infectious Pool
Date Mid Lower Upper

15 May 2020

12,500

8,500

18,500

22 May 2020

9,000

5,500

13,000

29 May 2020

6,500

4,000

10,500

05 June 2020

4,500

2,500

8,000

12 June 2020

3,000

1,500

6,000

19 June 2020

2,000

1,000

4,500

Figure 3 shows the epidemiological model forecasts produced by the Scottish Government, given the present set of interventions. This epidemic curve continues to show signs of reducing.

Figure 3: Scottish Government short-term forecast of the number of deaths from Covid-19 in Scotland, based on actual data up to 29 May 2020.
Figure 3. A bar chart showing daily numbers of deaths caused by Covid-19 in Scotland between 17th February and 29rd May, 2020. Overlain on this is the “estimated deaths” result from the model, which smooths out the cyclical weekly pattern in the reported numbers. The model results suggest deaths in Scotland peaked around 14th April and have been steadily declining since then.

Source: Scottish Government modelled estimates using Imperial College model code,
Source: Actual data from https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/weekly-and-monthly-data-on-births-and-deaths/deaths-involving-coronavirus-covid-19-in-scotland

The short-term forecasts produced by SAGE suggest that the number of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients in Scotland will continue to fall over the next two weeks (Figure 4). This is well within our Covid-19 hospital capacity of 4,250.

The short-term forecasts are fit to trends in the historical data. As a result, they do not include the possible impact of the changes to social distancing measures which have been announced by the Scottish Government and other UK administrations, but which have not yet resulted in changes to hospital or death data by the time the forecasts were made.

Figure 4. Short-term forecast of hospital bed occupancy in Scotland as of the 4 June, produced by SAGE.
Figure 4. A graph produced by the Scottish Government based on a short term forecast provided by SAGE of hospital bed occupancy by Covid-19 patients in Scotland. The most likely scenario shows occupancy declining from around 700 on 6 June to around 500 by 15 June.

Source: This figure has been produced by the Scottish Government using the forecast data provided by SAGE..

The medium-term forecasts produced by the Scottish Government (Figure 5) using the logistics model show a similar story over the next few months, with a steady decline in the number of people requiring a hospital bed from Covid-19.

These forecasts are based on the "phase 1" measures to begin relaxing lockdown. These measures began on 29 May, and we will not be able to reliably measure the effect of this for around three weeks. Instead, the forecasts are based on other European countries that have enacted some of the phase 1 measures, and we will monitor the impact of these changes in the coming weeks, and how this will effect hospital demand.

The three scenarios presented in Figure 5 for hospital demand and Figure 6 for ICU demand are for different levels of daily infections. In each case, we translate these into logistical forecasts which are used for planning purposes.

The Worse scenario and Better scenario should not be considered an upper and lower bound. It is important to note, in particular, that for planning reasons many of the assumptions used are deliberately precautionary, and so it is reassuring that actual case data are lower than the modelled estimate in the past, as is the case with the ICU demand forecast in Figure 6.

Figure 5: Logistical model medium term forecast of number of people requiring a hospital bed from Covid-19 in Scotland, 2020
Figure 5. A graph showing the modelled forecast of the most likely number of people in Scotland requiring a hospital bed due to Covid-19 in the longer term, along with better and worse case scenarios. In this figure, the most likely number of people requiring hospital treatment declines from around 2000 in early April, to below 60 in mid-August.

Source: Scottish Government modelled estimates using outputs from the Imperial College model code,
Source: Actual data from https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-trends-in-daily-data/

The logistical model also provides us with a medium term forecast of the number of ICU beds which may be required (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Logistical model medium term forecast of number of people requiring an intensive care from Covid-19 in Scotland, 2020
Figure 6 A graph showing the modelled forecast of the most likely number of people in Scotland requiring intensive care due to Covid-19 in the longer term, along with better and worse case scenarios. In this figure, the most likely number of people requiring intensive care treatment declines from around 200 in early April, to below 10 in mid-August.

Source: Scottish Government modelled estimates using outputs from the Imperial College model code,
Source: Actual data from https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-trends-in-daily-data/

What next?

The modelled estimates of hospital and ICU use, and of the reproduction number Rt will be published each week. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19


Contact

Email: modellingcoronavirus@gov.scot