How many people have REALLY had Covid in Britain? Experts are still baffled over true infection toll but estimate at least 30% of country have caught virus since pandemic began

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  • EXCLUSIVE: Professor Paul Hunter estimates that around 30% of people in England are likely to have the virus
  • Just 8 million people in England have officially tested positive for the virus since the Covid pandemic began
  • The millions of people infected during Britain’s first wave last spring are not included in the official count

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Experts say at least 30 percent of Britain has caught COVID since the pandemic began, yet the exact toll will always remain a mystery.

Only 8 million people – 12 per cent of the UK population – have officially tested positive for the coronavirus. Rates rank fifth in the worst-affected cities.

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But the actual number will be much higher and the government’s top scientific adviser is ‘actively looking’ for the exact ballpark figure.

The millions of people infected during Britain’s first wave last spring are not included in the number 10 official count because they were never able to get tested.

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The figure is also skewed by regions of the country that caught the virus but never showed any signs of being swabbed. And not everyone who becomes ill develops one of the three symptoms that warrant a free PCR test — cough, fever or loss of taste and smell.

The scientists also say that it is impossible to tell the true toll through surveillance studies that specifically look at antibody rates among populations because virus-fighting proteins – made in response to both natural infections and vaccines – have been reduced to undetectable levels. can be.

Despite the challenges in estimating a figure, one of the country’s top experts believes that around 30 per cent of the country, or 16.8 million people, may have caught the virus since it first arrived in England.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that estimating how many people have had the virus is ‘not an easy question’.

He added: ‘However, the bigger question is, what proportion of those who have not been vaccinated already have the virus and can therefore be considered safe.’

The millions of people infected during Britain’s first wave last spring are not included in the number 10 official count because they were never able to get tested. The graph shows: the five UK regions with the most and fewest positive tests since the start of the pandemic

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that he estimates that around 30 percent of people have Covid.

Professor Graham Medley, chair of an influential subgroup of SAGE, told MailOnline that because of difficulties with accounting for asymptomatic prevalence and declining antibodies, MailOnline experts have not yet arrived at an accurate estimate for all age groups, but government scientists are 'active. I'm definitely looking for one.

Professor Paul Hunter (left), an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that he estimates about 30 percent of people have Covid. Professor Graham Medley (right), chair of an influential subgroup of SAGE, told MailOnline experts have not yet landed on an accurate estimate for all age groups because of difficulties with accounting for asymptomatic prevalence and decreasing antibodies, but government scientists ‘Actively looking for one. ‘

Eight million people - 12 per cent of the UK population - have officially tested positive for the coronavirus.  Rates are as high as a fifth in the worst-hit cities

Eight million people – 12 per cent of the UK population – have officially tested positive for the coronavirus. Rates are as high as a fifth in the worst-hit cities

Their estimate is based on a comparison of officially reported cases – published every day by the Department of Health – against estimated estimates taken from a randomized surveillance plan that swabs thousands of people weekly.

Professor Hunter’s analysis shows that England has picked up about 45 percent of all modeled cases. This means that according to their calculations, there would have been about 30 infections for every 100 people.

He said: ‘But during the first three months of the pandemic we were pretty crap in detecting infections that didn’t cause severe disease, making it probably closer to 35.’

But Professor Hunter argued that 35 per cent was not entirely accurate in determining the proportion of the population who had ever had covid.

Modeled estimates, which come from the Office for National Statistics, might include the same person testing positive twice during their original bout of the disease – whereas the Department of Health’s figures are based on individuals.

This means that some in 35 percent would count the same person twice, and a more accurate figure would be around 30 percent.

Professor Graham Medley, chair of an influential subgroup of SAGE, told MailOnline that because of difficulties in accounting for asymptomatic prevalence and declining antibodies, MailOnline experts have not yet arrived at an accurate estimate for all age groups, but government scientists are ‘proactively’. Looking for one.

Experts from the UK’s Health Protection Agency, which has taken over epidemiological responsibilities for the now-defunct PHE, regularly conduct blood tests to answer this question.

Experts from the UK Health Protection Agency found that around 19 per cent of blood donors over the age of 17 specifically produced antibodies after being infected with the virus (shown by the red line).

Experts from the UK Health Protection Agency found that around 19 per cent of blood donors over the age of 17 specifically produced antibodies after being infected with the virus (shown by the red line).

According to the data, about 28 percent of people aged 17 to 29 are likely to have the virus by September 12 - the highest proportion of any age group.  The graph shows: proportion of people with specific antibodies to natural infection (triangle, dotted line) in different age groups versus proportion of antibodies that can come from infection or vaccination (circle, straight line)

According to the data, about 28 percent of people aged 17 to 29 are likely to have the virus by September 12 – the highest proportion of any age group. The graph shows: proportion of people with specific antibodies to natural infection (triangle, dotted line) in different age groups versus proportion of antibodies that can come from infection or vaccination (circle, straight line)

Among people aged 70 to 84, only five percent (3.7 million) tested positive for antibodies.  The graph shows: proportion of people with specific antibodies to natural infection (triangle, dotted line) in different age groups versus proportion of antibodies that can come from infection or vaccination (circle, straight line)

Among people aged 70 to 84, only five percent (3.7 million) tested positive for antibodies. The graph shows: proportion of people with specific antibodies to natural infection (triangle, dotted line) in different age groups versus proportion of antibodies that can come from infection or vaccination (circle, straight line)

Data from the body’s weekly surveillance report released yesterday showed that around 19 per cent of blood donors over the age of 17 years have antibodies that are produced by the body only after natural infection, meaning the tally is skewed by vaccines. is not done.

Professor Medley said this figure underestimates the number of people who have been infected because antibodies decrease within months of infection.

Not everyone makes antibodies and some just…

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