COVID-19 incidence and R decreased on the Isle of Wight after the launch of the Test, Trace, Isolate programme
Kendall M., Milsom L., Abeler-Dorner L., Wymant C., Ferretti L., Briers M., Holmes C., Bonsall D., Abeler J., Fraser C.
In May 2020 the UK introduced a Test, Trace, Isolate programme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme was first rolled out on the Isle of Wight and included Version 1 of the NHS contact tracing app. We used COVID-19 daily case data to infer incidence of new infections and estimate the reproduction number R for each of 150 Upper Tier Local Authorities in England, and at the National level, before and after the launch of the programme on the Isle of Wight. We used Bayesian and Maximum-Likelihood methods to estimate R, and compared the Isle of Wight to other areas using a synthetic control method. We observed significant decreases in incidence and R on the Isle of Wight immediately after the launch. These results are robust across each of our approaches. Our results show that the sub-epidemic on the Isle of Wight was controlled significantly more effectively than the sub-epidemics of most other Upper Tier Local Authorities, changing from having the third highest reproduction number R (of 150) before the intervention to the tenth lowest afterwards. The data is not yet available to establish a causal link. However, the findings highlight the need for further research to determine the causes of this reduction, as these might translate into local and national non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies in the period before a treatment or vaccination becomes available.