6 months since lockdown began: How we’re continuing to inform during the pandemic

An artists impression of COVID-19 virus and decorative charts

This week marks 6 months since the beginning of lockdown. It, therefore, feels appropriate to reflect on our response to the pandemic so far and provide an update on our plans for future analysis.  Liz McKeown and Darren Morgan, who are leading the analytical response, reflect on how we’ve responded to the coronavirus pandemic to date and look ahead at our future plans.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, we, at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been working hard across the organisation to provide the public, businesses and policy makers with the information they need to manage the pandemic and its wider impacts.

We have rapidly developed new and specialised surveys, brought in new data sources to inform analysis and also to be published as close to real-time indicators, shored up our existing data collections, and produced timely analysis on key topics related to COVID-19.

Yesterday, to mark 6 months since the lockdown announcement, we have released: Diary of a Nation: life in a lockdown. Using responses to our weekly Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) to examine our changing attitudes towards the pandemic over the last 6 months, this fascinating piece offers insights into people’s experiences in their own words.

Added to this, today we released COVID-19 in 10 charts which provides a high-level overview of some of the key changes that COVID-19 has had on the economy and society.

These two articles are examples of our commitment to providing our users with a full picture, delivered in diverse forms. This includes communicating key messages by focusing on individual experiences, as well as displaying country-wide data.

Making it easier for users to get a comprehensive overview of all of our analytical work has also been important to us. Back in June, we published a future analytical work programme providing the first overview of our analytical work from right across the office, encompassing health, social, labour market and economic dimensions. We are pleased to say that much of that work is now completed and we have updated the programme to include links to all the resulting analysis we have published.

Looking ahead

As the pandemic continues to evolve – in the last week we have seen an increase in the estimated number of infections and new restrictions come into force – we will continue to provide the evidence and data needed by central government, businesses, and the general public.

Therefore, today, we are releasing a new statement providing our future analytical programme, for the rest of 2020, in response to COVID-19. This statement demonstrates our commitment to look ahead to the next stage of the pandemic and sets out our plans to provide new and updated insights, building on the work we have already completed.

Just as the pandemic will evolve over the coming months, so too will our analytical plans. We will be constantly reviewing our workplans to remain flexible to any new data needs and requirements.

Our future analysis plan is grouped into four sections, covering the key areas of impact of COVID-19. The accompanying statement provides further detail, but in summary the plan covers:

  • Health – understanding the transmission rate and deaths related to COVID-19 including:
    • continuing to measure the rate of infection and antibody testing of COVID-19 in the general population
    • continuing to publish provisional weekly deaths and monthly mortality analysis, providing information on deaths related to COVID-19
  • Social impact – how people are responding to the pandemic and how society has changed including:
    • continuing to publish weekly estimates on attitudes and behaviours from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN)
    • following up our previous analysis of how time-use has changed as the pandemic has continued
  • Labour market – exploring how working life patterns are changing as a result of the pandemic including:
    • continuing to develop and publish early indicators of employment and earnings
    • further developing our understanding of occupational flows through the pandemic, with a focus on individual characteristics of the job movers, such as sex, age and qualifications
  • Economic impact – how the economy is reacting to the pandemic including:
    • continuing to publish weekly estimates from the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) to show how businesses are impacted by the pandemic and emerging issues
    • continuing to publish early indicators of economic and social impacts of coronavirus through our Faster Indicator work programme
    • providing insight on the impact of the pandemic through our established statistical releases

If you would like to keep up to date with our analysis, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage and check out the edited highlights in our COVID-19 round up.

We continue to welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please get in touch to share your knowledge, expertise or insights as we continue to provide the best possible statistics and analysis to inform the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Picture of Liz McKeown

Liz McKeown is Director of Public Policy Analysis and Co-lead for COVID-19 Analysis at the ONS

Picture of Darren Morgan

Darren Morgan is Director of Economic Statistics Development and Co-lead for COVID-19 Analysis