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London Covid: Leading scientists predict next stage of pandemic for each borough

mylondon– A leading group of scientists at a London university have developed a tool that predicts the rate of Covid-19 infections in each borough in the weeks ahead.

The tool, which has been developed by scientists at Imperial College London, shows how many cases each London borough is likely to have for the next three weeks.

Using the R number – which measures the speed at which the virus is spreading – and the rate of cases, the team can give an accurate picture of Covid-19 cases on a local level.

Using the map below, once you highlight a borough it will take you to its web page and presents predictions such as daily infections and weekly cases for that borough.

The crucial element of this tool is that it provides an accurate picture of the infection rate, not just the case rate, which allows an understanding of how many people actually have the virus, as not all those who have it will get tested.

“Nobody knows the real number of infections,” said Dr Swapnil Mishra, one of the leading scientists in creating the tool.

“Other data and our model can show with very near accuracy how many infections there are right now.

“If you know the R number and infection rate today, you can run the model forward for two to three weeks.”

Dr Mishra and his team have been working on modelling Covid-19 statistics since April 2020.

“We were the first to say we need to see what is happening on a local level,” he added.

“If we were not hit so hard by the virus we might not have developed it but we realised we needed to get an idea of what is happening right now.

“It was really important to act fast.”

The tool has been used by the English and Scottish governments to help them understand how the virus has spread.

Dr Mishra added: “We did feel a responsibility to come up with something for people to use because they deserve it.

“There was pressure because we created something that affects the way people view the pandemic. It’s a good type of pressure to do the right thing.”

The formula does not account for government policy changes, such as children going back to school, but allows the government to see how the rates of Covid-19 infection would change if everything stayed the same.

Dr Mishra added: “If the government implements a change, like children going back to school, it could take two weeks for it to show in the model but the prediction can be accurate for three weeks assuming the status quo is maintained.”

Dr Mishra said he is keen to urge people to not just use their tool, but to look at groups of data and trends when understanding the impact of Covid-19 in London

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