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New PhD opportunity!

An exciting interdisciplinary PhD opportunity as part of NorthWestBio initiative. You will be part of a modelling team at the University of Strathclyde, working with OneHealth economists at the University of Glasgow, and a world-leading potato research group at the James Hutton Institute.

A Few Bad Potatoes: Modelling Economic Aspects of Disease Control in Seed Potatoes

Come and help fighting off diseases that affect potato growing industry in Scotland – and worldwide – and learn about bioeconomics and modelling as well as biology. Get a certification as a potato inspector – and get your wellies out!

The project would fit graduates in Mathematics, Statistics or Physics who want to learn about economics and biology; Economics students interested in applying their skills to biology and agronomics; as well as Biology students who are interested in modelling.

Any questions, please contact me at a.kleczkowski@strath.ac.uk

Major infectious diseases – England’s update, week 5

TL&DR: The Covid wave continues its upward trend, and Scarlet Fever is still a problem (and potentially increasing). Influenza and RSV are on the decline. A big jump in Norovirus reported cases, apparently due to an increase in reporting for those over 65s.

Similar picture has just been reported for Denmark:


Covid cases continue to go up in both England and (less so, at least so far) Scotland.

I am a bit suspicious of Scottish data, as I suspect reporting issues might keep the numbers low. But there is a clear signal in almost all age groups, except the youngest ones.

Looking at other reported data, England saw a continuing trend in both reports and in hospitalisation over the last 3 weeks. The rise is perhaps not as fast as in the previous wave.


Following quite a severe season, the cases are down, but seem to plateau now. Hopefully, we will not see a “long tail” (as in 2019/20) and the season will soon be over.


The numbers are again down, almost tracing the outbreak path from the pre-pandemic years. Hopefully, RSV will now keep the trend down and, as with flu, we will see a return to pre-pandemic “normal”.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever continues at high numbers, with a substantial correction upwards compared to data last week (marked by open circles below) – this is a typical behaviour whereby reports of older cases keep coming in.

I expect the numbers to stabilise or perhaps even go up a bit in the next few months, with the peak around week 12 of the year (late March).

Given the impact of the late-2022 peak on the population immunity, I do not expect the numbers to increase significantly.


A screenshot from the UKHSA, shows a massive increase in week 4. The UKHSA report suggests that this is due to improved reporting for cases in those over 65 years olds. This suggests that the cases so far have been under-reported and highlights the magnitude of the current outbreak.


Major infectious diseases – England’s update, week 4

TL&DR: We are approaching a new Covid wave, driven by XBB.1.5. Not very good news for flu and RSV either, and Scarlet fever still at exceptionally high levels. So, a rather gloomy update, hence a nice picture above (Sunset over river Tay from Dundee Law, Scotland).


Covid cases are picking up again; both notifications and hospitalisations have gone up in the last week of January.

The daily notifications – more up to date than the above UKHSA data – also show the numbers picking up in the youngest (0-14yo) and in their parents (25-44yo) and grandparents (75+).

I am concerned about the Scottish data, with the drop suggesting lack of testing rather than low numbers.

This wave seems to be coming quicker than I expected, possibly because of the new variant(s). The XBB.1.5 one is fast growing is now a dominating one (not seen yet in the picture below).


The flu season is not over yet and the positivity seems to be levelling off. As usual, I expect the last point to be revised upwards and so we might see an increase again.


To complete a set of bad news, RSV admissions have picked up again. Hopefully, the seasonal pattern will be restored soon and we will see drop again, the epidemic might be still a problem for some time.

Scarlet fever

Following a Twitter exchange recently, here is a graph of Scarlet fever cases without a logarithmic scale. This shows the real scale of this year’s outbreak which dwarves the previous years.

And, it is possibly not over yet, with the last 2-3 data points likely to be updated upwards next week.


I still have not managed to digitise the UKHSA data, so here is a figure from the most recent report. It is a mixed picture, with some increase where we should be seeing a decline, but probably no reason to panic (yet).