Study suggests 6pc of people in England have had Covid-19

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 15, 2020

However, a study which tested more than 100,000 people across England for antibodies to the coronavirus showed that almost 6% of people had them, suggesting that 3.4 million people had previously contracted Covid-19 by the end of the June.

Professor Graham Cooke, a co-author of the study, said: "There are still many unknowns with this new virus, including the extent to which the presence of antibodies offers protection against future infections".

He said: 'The numbers are still very big and that explains the high levels of mortality we've seen but, as a proportion of the overall population, it's relatively small.

The figures are the result of research involving 100,000 people testing themselves at home for coronavirus antibodies from June 20-July 13.

Healthcare and care workers were most likely to have been previously infected.

In London, 13% of people had antibodies, compared to just 3% in southwest England.

The highest numbers of positive results were in people who reported confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in March and April, and were shown across all regions of England.

The study found 17 per cent of black volunteers had antibodies, the categories of Asian and "other" ethnic minorities had 12 per cent each. The figure among white volunteers was only five per cent.

Smokers were slightly less likely to have antibodies than non-smokers - at 3 per cent compared with 5 per cent - while 32 per cent of people with antibodies had shown no symptoms, a figure which rose to 49 per cent of those aged older than 65.

Experts highlighted that testing positive for antibodies does not mean someone is immune to COVID-19, as there is no firm evidence yet that the presence of antibodies means someone can not be re-infected with the virus.

'These data will have important implications as decisions to ease lockdown restrictions in England'. Taken together these studies provide one of the most comprehensive assessments of home antibody self-testing to date, the DHSC said.

The study will be repeated in the fall, testing 200,000 people.

The research, which employed home antibody testing kits used by volunteers, is the largest study in the world for testing for CCP virus antibodies.

"Right from the beginning, it was widely dispersed".

The researchers also cautioned that although antibody tests were helpful for running such large scale studies, they were not a guarantee of future immunity.

Argar urged the British people to consider "signing up" to one of the number of studies being planned as part of a "national testing effort". Separate studies, also unveiled on Thursday, evaluated a range of finger-prick home antibody tests but found the results were not reliable enough to be given government approval for widespread use, officials said.

But Prof Cooke said: 'We can't assume that people who have got antibodies are protected and, if they are, we don't know how long for'.

He added: "At the beginning of the United Kingdom epidemic, it was estimated that approximately 60% of the population would need to be infected by this coronavirus for herd immunity to be acquired". The government maintained it has no firm proof that having antibodies translates into immunity for COVID-19.

"These findings therefore imply that, for that to happen, we would have needed to see a much greater level of community infection, perhaps a 10-fold increase, with correspondingly increased levels of illness and death".

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