Ruth McCabe completes secondment at UKHSA

Mon, 07 March 2022

We talked to Ruth McCabe, a PhD student who is working with Prof Christl Donnelly at the University of Oxford, about her recent internship at the UKHSA.  

In January, I started a 3 month Early Career Research internship specialising in mathematical modelling at UKHSA. The team that I am working in, Epi Ensemble, are responsible for producing nowcasts of the COVID-19 effective reproduction number (Rt) and epidemic growth rate in addition to producing medium-term projections of the number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths using an ensemble of different models. It has been a particularly exciting time to be a member of this team due to the changing case definitions (e.g. the inclusion of reinfections within cases in January) and the introduction of the government’s ‘Living with COVID-19’ plan (announced in February). My role has been to evaluate the potential impacts of such changes on the model outputs, particularly Rt, and to consider how the team can continue to produce robust estimates in the future when key data streams may change substantially, or disappear altogether. I am loving my time at UKHSA – I’m working with brilliant scientists, I’m gaining experience of real-time outbreak analysis and I’ve even had the opportunity to present my work across the entire Data, Analytics and Surveillance division. Most of all, it’s taught me that I’ve learned a lot more during my PhD than I thought I had!