One in 400 people in England suffer from coronavirus, according to tests


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One in 400 people in England is infected with a coronavirus, according to a survey of 11,000 people in households.

They were asked to do swab tests in the two weeks before May 10.

This indicates that around 148,000 people in England may be currently infected – 0.27% of the population.

Figures could help ministers estimate rate of virus transmission, or
R number
and whether contact tracking of infected people is possible or not.

The pilot study of 5,000 households gives an instant estimate of the number of people likely to be infected with the virus at any given time, with or without symptoms.

It is expected to expand over time to test 25,000 people for the virus in private households in the four UK countries.

Households tested in this survey did not include inpatients or people living in nursing homes, where Covid-19 levels are likely to be much higher,
Figures from the National Statistics Office show

Only 33 of the 11,000 people – in 30 households – tested positive in this instant survey.

Health and care workers in these households were several times more likely to be infected than workers in other sectors.

“Good news for me, but not enough to get out of the lockout”

This figure suggests that my personal chances of getting the virus are quite low at the moment.

This may not be surprising to the experts who modeled the data, but to those whose expectations were probably set by the grim succession of headlines about the record number of deaths and the ever-increasing number of infections, it may seem surprisingly weak.

Remember, the best estimates are that millions of people have had coronavirus. This study tells us who has it right now – and can therefore pass it on.

This estimate of one in 400, outside of hospitals and nursing homes, means it is unlikely that I will meet someone with the virus on a bus, but a metro train probably has a few infected s ‘there is only standing room.

The figure also highlights the challenge the government faces in trying to break out of the lockout.

Testing, contact tracing and isolation are currently our only tool other than social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

But one in 400 people in a country the size of England represents 150,000 people.

Imagine trying to find the contacts of all those infected in England. And of course, the survey estimates that there are 150,000 people infected – but it doesn’t tell us who they are.


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