One in FIVE people might have had coronavirus, modelling suggests

One in FIVE people might have had coronavirus with HALF the population in some London boroughs already through the infection

  • Government’s Covid-19 dashboard says there’s been 2.4million cases of the disease in England since February
  • But analysis by Edge Health suggests that the actual number of infections could be as high as 12.4million
  •  It revealed that estimated cases are more than five times the official count in 77 local authorities in England

One in five people in England may have had coronavirus, according to modelling which estimates the true infection number is five times higher than the official toll.

The Government’s Covid-19 dashboard says there has been 2.4million cases of the disease since the outbreak swept the UK in February, or four per cent of the country’s population.

But analysis by Edge Health suggests that the actual number of infections could be as high as 12.4million, the equivalent of 22 per cent of people. 

The model used to arrive at the figure compares Covid-19 deaths in each area of England against an estimated infection mortality rate. 

It revealed that estimated cases are more than five times the official count in 77 places in England, just over half the 149 local authorities analysed. 

In some parts of London and Essex — which were the initial hotspots in spring and are now struggling with the highly infectious new strain — the true infection toll could be eight times higher, with up to one in two people estimated to have contracted the virus. 

In Manchester and Liverpool, which became the epicentres during autumn as the epidemic shifted north, the actual case number is thought to be six times higher than the Government’s count, with four in 10 having had Covid.  

George Batchelor, co-founder and director of Edge Health, said it was ‘incredible’ how out of whack the official testing regime was with the country’s epidemic, saying it was only painting ‘a fraction of the picture of total infections’.

It’s widely accepted that the actual number of Brits who’ve had the disease is far higher than the official toll because of asymptomatic cases and a lack of testing or people not coming forward for tests. This was particularly true at the start of the pandemic when Britain’s lacklustre testing scheme meant swabs were only reserved for the sickest Covid patients in hospital. 

Scroll down to see the true infections in YOUR area 

The Government’s Covid-19 dashboard says there has been 2.4million cases of the disease since the outbreak swept the UK in February, or four per cent of the country’s population. But analysis by Edge Health suggests that the actual number of infections could be as high as 12.4million, the equivalent of 22 per cent of people

Edge’s data suggests the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham Newham and Redbridge, and Thurrock in Essex, have had the highest proportion of Covid cases of anywhere in England. 

The model found 54.2 per cent of the population had caught the virus in Barking, 49 per cent in Newham, 45.4 per cent in Thurrock and 42.9 per cent in Redbridge.

Chris Whitty today warned the next few weeks are set to be the worst yet for the NHS as the government begs people not to ‘push the boundaries’ of the lockdown – and threatens to make it even tougher.

The chief medical officer took to the airwaves to highlight the scale of the threat, saying that there are 30,000 people in hospital compared to the peak of 18,000 in April.

Amid a crackdown on stopping to chat in the street and in shops, Prof Whitty urged people to remember that ‘every unnecessary contact’ was an opportunity for the virus to spread.

He insisted that although the the NHS was in the ‘most dangerous situation anyone can remember’ vaccines mean the UK can be back to normal in ‘months not years’ – but he cautioned that the situation is a long way from that currently.

The intervention came amid fears that the number of daily deaths is on track to rise to 2,000, with Boris Johnson looking at tightening the national lockdown rules even more dramatically if cases keep surging.

A Whitehall source told MailOnline ministers have discussed going as far as saying people can only leave the house once a week – although No10 today denied this was on the cards. Other ideas include compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and a ban on extended bubbles.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi this morning suggested that shops are in the firing line, stressing the need for everyone to wear masks and follow one-way systems in supermarkets. He appealed for people not to stop and chat to friends they bump into while outside their homes.

Limits on individuals from different households exercising together also look to be in the pipeline as the government scrambles for ways of lowering transmission.

Prof Whitty told BBC Breakfast: ‘We have a very significant problem. The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of the numbers into the NHS.’

He added: ‘This is everybody’s problem.’

Prof Whitty said: ‘This is the most dangerous time we have really had in terms of numbers into the NHS at this particular time.’

The UK announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths yesterday in the highest Sunday rise since April, and the third-deadliest Sunday of the entire pandemic as it emerged as many as one in five of all people in England may have had coronavirus. It could be as high as one in two people in some areas of east London and Essex, the modelling by Edge Health claims.

Infections also continue to be high, with 54,940 announced yesterday – the thirteenth day in a row they have been above the 50,000 mark.

 

The raw infection data highlights the disparity between the official tally by Public Health England and the true number of cases.

In Barking, Edge estimates 115,460 people have previous had Covid-19, compared to just 14,665 confirmed PHE cases. There was a similar theme in Newham, where there were an estimated 173,058 infections to PHE’s 21,683. In Thurrock the figure was 79,223 versus 12,007 and in Redbridge it was 130,806 compared to 22,125. 

The model estimates that 39 per cent of the populations in Liverpool and Manchester have had Covid at some point, with 193,428 and 213,389 infections, respectively. Those estimates are six times higher than the official tolls.

The four areas with the lowest infections are all in the South West — in Devon (5.9 per cent), Dorset (5.8 per cent), Cornwall (4.8 per cent) and Torbay (7.5 per cent). Because Covid relies on dense populations and lots of social interactions to spread, rural areas have been spared the worst of its effects.

Edge Health estimated the total cases by looking at the total number of Covid-19-attributed deaths, published by the Office for National Statistics, in each local authority area.

The team then worked backwards to estimate the number of cases that must have occurred in order to lead to the deaths. They did this using modelling which took into account the age demographic in each area, social deprivation and other variables than increase people’s chances of dying to Covid.

George Batchelor, the co-founder and director of Edge Health, told the Guardian: ‘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.’

It comes as Chris Whitty today warned the next few weeks are set to be the worst yet for the NHS as the government threatened to make lockdown even tougher.

The chief medical officer took to the airwaves to highlight the scale of the threat, saying that there are 30,000 people in hospital compared to the peak of 18,000 in April.

Amid a crackdown on stopping to chat in the street and in shops, Prof Whitty urged people to remember that ‘every unnecessary contact’ was an opportunity for the virus to spread.

He insisted that although the the NHS was in the ‘most dangerous situation anyone can remember’ vaccines mean the UK can be back to normal in ‘months not years’ – but he cautioned that the situation is a long way from that currently.

The intervention came amid fears that the number of daily deaths is on track to rise to 2,000, with Boris Johnson looking at tightening the national lockdown rules even more dramatically if cases keep surging.

There are claims ministers have discussed going as far as saying people can only leave the house once a week – although No10 today denied this was on the cards – as well as compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and a ban on extended bubbles.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi this morning suggested that shops are in the firing line, stressing the need for everyone to wear masks and follow one-way systems in supermarkets. He appealed for people not to stop and chat to friends they bump into while outside their homes.

Limits on individuals from different households exercising together also look to be in the pipeline as the government scrambles for ways of lowering transmission.

Prof Whitty told BBC Breakfast: ‘We have a very significant problem. The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of the numbers into the NHS.’ He added: ‘This is everybody’s problem.’

Prof Whitty said: ‘This is the most dangerous time we have really had in terms of numbers into the NHS at this particular time.’

The UK announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths yesterday in the highest Sunday rise since April, and the third-deadliest Sunday of the entire pandemic as it emerged as many as one in five of all people in England may have had coronavirus. It could be as high as one in two people in some areas of east London and Essex, the modelling by Edge Health claims.

Infections also continue to be high, with 54,940 announced yesterday – the thirteenth day in a row they have been above the 50,000 mark.

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