The number of people who have previously been infected with COVID-19 varies “substantially” across the UK, the new figures show
At least one in eight people within England had had COVID-19 by December last year, new survey data estimates.
The figures for private households in the country come from the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey in partnership with the University of Oxford, University of Manchester and Public Health England, as well as Wellcome Trust.
These numbers are based on the proportion of the English population who are likely to have received a positive test for antibodies for COVID-19, this is based on blood test results from a sample of people aged 16 and above.
The ONS has said that the figures equate to approximately 5.4 million people in England having previously been infected with the coronavirus.
This comes after the NHS is considering plans to discharge it’s patients into hotels as the nation’s hospitals become packed with COVID-19 patients, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has now confirmed, saying that it was “impossible to know” how long the nation-wide lockdown restrictions might last.
The ONS has reportedly found “substantial variation” between different regions throughout England, with 17% of people within private households in Yorkshire and the Humber estimated to have tested positive for antibodies in December, compared with just 5% in southwest England.
In London, the figure was 16% in December, up from 11% in October, while it was 15% in the North West, up from 6% in October.
The percentage testing positive for antibodies in each region was as follows:
Yorkshire and the Humber 16.8%
North West 15.1%
West Midlands 14.3%
East Midlands 12.7%
North East 12.5%
South East 8.3%
East of England 8.1%
South West 4.9%
Experts have warned that the length of time coronavirus antibodies are detectable in the blood is not known.
The ONS study measures antibodies in people who live in private households across the UK. It does not include those in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
The study came Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, has been in close contact with somebody who tested positive and will be working from home until Sunday. He revealed he is self-isolating for the next six days after being “pinged” by the NHS coronavirus app.
In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “Last night I was pinged by the NHS coronavirus app, so that means I’ll be self-isolating at home, not leaving the house at all until Sunday.”