A study conducted in Germany shows how the country’s death-rate could mean that as many as 7.9million Brits have already had the coronavirus without knowing
The research paper conducted by the University of Bonn suggests that the actual rate of infection in the UK, may be more than 40 times the total of official figures that have been reported, and ten times higher in Germany.
The researchers studied the German town of Gangelt, which was one of the worst impacted areas in Germany, allowing them to calculate that COVID-19 infections have a death-rate of 0.37%.
Using this information, the scientists calculated that Germany must have ten times the rate of infections than had been first thought, meaning 1.8million could have potentially already had the coronavirus in the country.
The official figures record 166,424 infections, with 6,993 deaths, but to get a 0.37% death-rate, that would mean that the total number of people who have contracted COVID-19 would be almost two million in order to account for that amount of fatalities.
With this same calculation applied to the United Kingdom, taking the latest official figure of 29,424 cases of infection, this would mean the actual amount of people who have contracted the coronavirus would have to be as high as 7.9million as compared to the official predicted figure of 194,990; it is over 40 times higher.
This news comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that the furlough scheme in the UK could see a reduction in payments to 60% of wages in order to begin easing lockdown measures within the UK.
This does not even factor in any potential unreported coronavirus-related deaths in the calculations.
Infections of the coronavirus are widely believed to be underestimated due to a variety of reasons such as a lack of testing in the UK, as well as asymptomatic cases; it is also thought that COVID-19 may have even been in Europe as early as November.
Prof Streeck and co-author Professor Gunther Hartmann said the findings show the potential dangers of infection by unidentified carriers of the virus as European nations begin to ease their lockdown measures, despite the threat of more peaks in the rise of infection.
Professor Hartmann said:
“The results can help to further improve the models to calculate how the virus spreads. So far the underlying data has been relatively weak.”
Martin Exner, head of Bonn University’s Institute for Hygiene and Public Health and co-author of the study, said:
“The fact that apparently every fifth infection progresses without noticeable disease symptoms suggests that infected persons who shed the virus and who can thereby infect others cannot be reliably identified on the basis of recognisable disease symptoms.”
“Every supposedly healthy person we encounter can unknowingly carry the virus. We must be aware of this and act accordingly.”
The study from Gangelt also showed that around one in five of the population of people infected with COVID-19 were asymptomatic, showing none of the typical symptoms of the coronavirus.
With this information applied to the UK’s predicted figure of 7.9million cases of infection, this could mean that up to 1.58million people in the UK are carrying the coronavirus and are completely unaware.