1 in 5 people in England may have had Covid - millions more than first thought

Monday, 11th January 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Monday, 11th January 2021, 10:40 am

One in five people in England may have already had coronavirus, with estimates rising to as many as one in three in some parts of the country, according to new modelling.

The analysis shows that the true number of people who have contacted coronavirus in England throughout the pandemic could be five times higher than the total number of cases registered with the Government.

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The analysis was carried out by Edge Health. The company compared the number of deaths in an area against the estimated infection fatality rate, with the assumption that there is a three week long lag between cases and deaths.

This would put the total number of cases to date in England at 12.4 million people by 3 January, rather than the 2.4 million detected by the Government’s Covid Test and Trace system as of the same date.

Which areas have been worst affected according to this modelling?

While these estimates suggest that the number of infections has been higher than officially stated throughout most of the country, some areas seem to have been worse affected than others.

Most of the places with the highest levels of estimated infection are in London and the South East. The London borough of Barking and Dagenham is estimated to have the highest level of infection within the population, at 54.2 per cent, or 115,460 people, compared with Public Health England’s figures for the area, 6.9 per cent, or 14,665 people.

Among the local authorities thought to have had the most infections in total are Birmingham, Kent and Essex, with 3788.806 cases, 364,437 cases and 321,858 estimated cases respectively.

Areas with the highest total rates of infection

In terms of proportion of population, here are the local authority areas estimated to have the highest total rates of infection:

Barking and Dagenham - 54.2%Newham - 49%Thurrock - 45.4%Redbridge - 42.9%Havering - 42.4%Tower Hamlets - 39.8%Liverpool - 38.8%Rochdale - 38.0%Salford - 37.8%

Speaking to the Guardian, co-founder and director of Edge Health, George Batchelor, said: “Reported tests are only a fraction of the picture of total infections, which show how badly hit London and the North West have been during the pandemic.

“It is incredible that the level of understanding of where and how infections are occurring is not greater at this stage, since it would allow control measures to be more targeted.

“Even with imminent vaccinations, it is crucial to develop this understanding so that future variants of the virus can be effectively controlled and managed.”