Over 25 per cent of the UK 'may have had coronavirus', experts claim

15 May 2020, 08:56 | Updated: 15 May 2020, 15:21

A new study has looked at the possible coronavirus infection rate in the UK (stock image)
A new study has looked at the possible coronavirus infection rate in the UK (stock image). Picture: PA/Getty
Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

Researchers at the University of Manchester believe that over 25 per cent of the population may have been infected with the disease before 19 April.

Researchers have claimed that over a quarter of people in the UK may have had coronavirus, with most having no symptoms.

In a new study by the University of Manchester, experts say more than 25 per cent of the population may have been infected before 19 April, as reported by The Sun.

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The majority of these people wouldn't have displayed classic Covid-19 symptoms such as fever and persistent cough.

The number of people who have been infected in the UK may be higher than official figures
The number of people who have been infected in the UK may be higher than official figures. Picture: PA

The study analysed data from 144 local authorities, and calculated the R-value - which is the number of people infected by one person with coronavirus - within each.

They estimated that each person infected over three others in the middle of March, but that it has now fallen to well below one.

Dr Adrian Heald - one of the researchers - said: "Covid-19 is a highly infectious condition and very dangerous for a small group of people.

"However a much larger group seem to have low or no symptoms and have been unreported.

"This study tries to provide an estimate of the number of historic infections – and gives us all a glimmer of hope that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

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"We show how effective social distancing and lockdown has been. Though this is a tragedy, it could have been far worse."

The findings, which have been published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, extrapolated data from the local authorities and estimated around 25 per cent of the population may have been infected.

Mike Stedman, from Res Consortium, who carried out the data analysis, said: "Using our experience working with the NHS on improving patient services, we conducted this work in our own time as we felt we could make a valuable contribution to the public and policy makers by calculating the progression in the local and national daily infection rate.

"The figures are not perfect, with the numbers of severely ill patients as a proportion of the total cases being used as a market for estimates of wider infection.

"Only extensive antibody testing could give us a more accurate picture - but as that is only just becoming available, we believe this form of modelling is important in informing the best approach to unlocking the population."

Read more about the study on the University of Manchester website.

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