Modelling in a pandemic: advising the UK response to COVID-19, and protecting enclosed communities

Impact: Health and wellbeing


The Unit’s expertise in modelling/analysis of epidemics, and particularly transmission in enclosed communities, has enabled impact on both regional and national scales throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Their work was delivered through direct collaboration with both national and regional bodies, and to Government via the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and Public Health England (PHE). The dominant impacts are
i. In March 2020, the timing of the first national lockdown was driven by the Unit’s modelling that identified a three-day infection doubling time, displacing the previous five-to-six day figure;
ii. In collaboration with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the COVID-19 infection survey was developed and used to inform restriction tiering and national intervention decisions;
iii. Modelling results shaped infection control procedures for enclosed communities (notably in prisons and hospitals, but also care homes and schools), and is credited with minimising outbreak risk and saving lives;
iv. Modelling also underpinned hospital resource planning in the North West, which permitted elective non-COVID life-threatening work to continue, and is also credited with having saved lives.
Impact date1 Aug 201331 Jul 2020
Category of impactHealth and wellbeing
Impact levelAdoption

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Thomas Ashton Institute