Coronavirus: What Is The ‘R Rate' & How Is It Calculated?

28 May 2020, 11:57 | Updated: 28 May 2020, 12:01

Boris Johnson mentioned the 'R value' in his conference
Boris Johnson mentioned the 'R value' in his conference. Picture: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK is now past their COVID-19 peak and mentioned tackling the 'R value' was our goal and will help to ease lockdown - but what is the 'R rate' and how do you calculate it?

Boris Johnson, who recently welcomed his son with Carrie Symonds, gave his first press briefing earlier this month, to share his plans on the coronavirus lockdown and mentioned the ‘R value’ or 'R rate' will help this.

The Prime Minister stated that the UK is now ‘past the peak’ of COVID-19 but warned that lifting lockdown measures would take time.

Tap Here For NHS Updates On Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus: What Is A "Reasonable Excuse" For Leaving Your Home During Lockdown Extension?

He also added that the decrease in the ‘R value’ was essential to this happening, saying: “Driving down the R" is the country's "collective endeavour".

But what is the ‘R value' or (R0 value)? Why is it dangerous and how do you calculate the reproduction rate?

What is the 'R value'/'R rate' & why is it dangerous?

The 'R value' simply refers to the reproduction number and it is a way of judging a disease’s ability to spread.

It is important in terms of the lockdown as it means the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

The reproduction number can be dangerous because if the number is higher than one, it can spread at an alarming rate, which will increase the death rate.

But if the number is lower, the disease will decrease rapidly since there aren’t enough infected people to sustain it.

Since the lockdown, scientists have predicted the UK’s value is currently sitting on around 0.7, but more testing would need to be done to have a more accurate number. 

This is crucial in being able to ease lockdown restrictions and get the economy back to normal.

How is the 'R rate' calculated?

The reproduction number cannot be calculated in real-time, instead, scientists look at a number of variables to calculate the estimated value.

The things taken into consideration include positive coronavirus tests, rates of hospitalisation and fatalities.

> Download Our App For All The Latest Coronavirus News