According to a new study on the pandemic in England, up to 80% of people who test positive for coronavirus have no symptoms.
Research by the National Statistics Office (ONS) uses swab tests to determine how many people are infected with Covid-19 across the country at any given time.
In the vast majority of cases, those who tested positive had no symptoms, said Matt Hancock on Thursday.
The Secretary of Health told the Downing Street Daily Press Briefing: “Yes, there are people who do not have symptoms but who have the virus.
“And in fact, in the ONS study, we find that about 70-80% of people who test positive have no symptoms. This is a fairly important finding. ”
Hancock acknowledged that asymptomatic transmission is “one of the things that make it very difficult to control this disease.”
But, he said, the government’s proposed NHS screening and testing system was part of the solution, because isolating those who tested positive for Covid-19 can “break the chain of transmission,” especially when they would not have known otherwise that they were carrying the disease. .
Dido Harding, who heads the NHS test and traceability program, said a rollout of antibody tests for the public “would arrive on time” with health care workers being tested.
The presence of antibodies in a blood sample indicates that someone has contracted the virus in the past.
But Baroness Harding said the problem was that not enough was known about the level of positive protection testing for anti-coronavirus antibodies provided.
Earlier in the UK epidemic, there had been initial talk of government-issued immunity certificates to allow those who had previously contracted the virus to be exempt from certain lock-in measures.
Lady Harding said at press conference 10: “One of the challenges, and I know we all want it to be true that if we have antibodies, it will mean that we are free to do things that the others are not, but for now… if we have an antibody test which tells you that you have antibodies.
“Over time, we would expect us to accumulate evidence to demonstrate the proportion or level of antibodies you actually need to have immunity and for how long you will have immunity.
“But at the moment, the science is not there.
“So I fully understand everyone’s desire to know if the cough or the temperature they had in February or March was in fact a coronavirus but for the moment, it will tell you nothing other than if you had it or not. “
She added, “It will come over time, and the tests we do, the antibody tests in health care right now, allow us to build this scientific evidence base to the point where we start to see the real thing. benefit for all of us. ”
The latest figures from the ONS study suggest that one in 1,000 people currently have coronavirus, of which 53,000 are currently being carried in England.