According to the Office for National Statistics only 22% of people testing positive in the UK for the coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test
This shows the importance of “asymptomatic transmission”, the spread of the coronavirus by those who are not aware that they are carrying it. Health workers and social care staff have appeared to be those who are most likely to test positive for COVID-19.
This comes after deaths from all causes in the United Kingdom have fallen to below the average figure for a second week in a row.
Between the end of March and the beginning of June, there were 59,000 more deaths in the UK than the five-year average.
This comes after the President of the Royal Society has said that refusing to wear a mask in public during the COVID-19 pandemic should become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving or not wearing a seatbelt.
While the survey from the ONS includes a relatively small number of positive swab tests (120 infections in all) making it difficult to make any strong conclusions as to who is most likely to be infected, the study does, however, show some patterns that are being produced within the data:
- Those in people-facing health or social care roles, and working outside their homes, in general, were more likely to have a positive test.
- People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to have a positive antibody test, suggesting a past infection.
- White people were the least likely proportionally to test positive for antibodies.
- There was also some evidence that people living in larger households were more likely to test positive than those in smaller households. Although men are more likely to die from coronavirus than women, this study did not find a difference in how likely they were to contract the infection.
On Monday, the prime minister spoke about how asymptomatic spread may have contributed to COVID-19 cases in care homes.
Boris Johnson’s comments provoked anger within the care home sector after he suggested that, “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures”.
Later the UK’s Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said that he’d meant that:
“nobody at the time knew what the correct procedures were”
Hew went on to say that this was due to a lack of understanding of the levels of asymptomatic transmission throughout the country at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
At least three different establishments in England announced that they were closing, following cases of the coronavirus, just days after the ‘Super Saturday’ re-openings that were permitted on the weekend.
Transmission by those who are asymptomatic was warned of by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the UK government’s scientific advisers, but they weren’t able to fully quantify how great a risk this form of viral transmission was.
In the ONS study, 22% of participants reportedly showed symptoms on the day of the tests, and a larger group, (33%) of people testing positive for coronavirus, reportedly had symptoms either on the day of their test or at a previous or subsequent coronavirus test.