Coronavirus has infected more than a million Londoners, major study finds

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More than a million Londoners have had coronavirus, a major study estimated today.

The results, based on antibody tests performed by 100,000 people at home, indicate that nearly 3.4 million people in England had had Covid-19.

The figures, from Imperial College London, are 10 times higher than the official figures for confirmed cases.

The daily government dashboard shows 313,798 people in England have tested positive for the coronavirus so far.

His numbers are based on nasal and throat swabs that detect the “live” virus, mostly in people with symptoms.

Today’s study, the world’s largest home antibody testing program, found that 13% of Londoners had been infected with the virus by the middle of last month.

The capital’s population is 8.9 million, which means more than 1.1 million people have had coronavirus.

This could be good news if scientists are able to confirm that the antibodies they have developed are capable of providing “natural immunity” against reinfection.

However, at this point it is not known how long the antibodies stay in the body or what degree of long-term protection they can offer.

London’s antibody level was almost double that of the second highest region, the North West, where it was 6.6%.

The south-east outside the capital was 3.9% and the south-west 2.8%. Across England the rate was 6%.

A separate study last month from UK Biobank, based on 20,000 antibody tests, estimated the infection rate in London at 10.8%.

Studies from Imperial and Biobank have shown that black and ethnic Londoners have higher infection rates.

Nationwide, infection rates were highest among blacks (17.3%) and Asians (11.3%) and nursing home workers (16.5%), Imperial said. Antibodies were detected in 5% of whites.

The higher prevalence among BAME communities is believed to be related to larger households, more disadvantaged areas, and the higher likelihood of having a public-oriented job. England was already known to have had more ‘excess deaths’ than any other country in Europe due to the pandemic.

The Imperial Study asked volunteers to test themselves at their homes between June 20 and July 13 and download the results.

The home antibody test kits have not yet been approved for official government use, but researchers have found that several tests are accurate enough to give useful results on such a large sample of participants.

Almost everyone – 96% – confirmed having Covid-19 turned out to have antibodies.

However, the presence of antibodies was more common in young people and decreased in those over 65.

Professor Graham Cooke, head of research at Imperial, said: “There are still many unknowns with this new virus, including the extent to which the presence of antibodies offers protection against future infections.

“Using finger-prick tests suitable for large-scale home testing has given us a better understanding to date of the spread of the virus in the country and who is at greatest risk.

“These data will have important implications as decisions to ease lockdown restrictions in England.”

Almost a third of people (32%) with antibodies said they had no symptoms of coronavirus, such as a persistent cough, fever, or loss of taste or smell. This was most common in people over 65, where 49% reported no symptoms.

Health Minister Edward Argar said: “Large-scale antibody surveillance studies are essential to help us understand how the virus has spread across the country and whether there are specific groups that are more vulnerable. , as we continue our work to reduce the spread of disease. .

“We don’t yet know that antibodies confer immunity to the coronavirus, but the more information we can collect about this virus, and the more we can make it easier for people to participate in these studies, the better equipped we will be to respond to them.”

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