The SAGE files: One in 20 Covid-19 patients is infectious after 14 days, report finds

The SAGE files: One in 20 Covid-19 patients is infectious after 14 days, a fifth of swabs might be inaccurate and opening schools could cause R to soar above 1, latest batch of scientific papers show

  • Government warned 5% hospitalised patients may be infectious after two weeks
  • This poses ‘risk for onwards transmission to carers’ and family members
  • Study in early June also revealed little known about swab being used nationally

As many as one in 20 Covid-19 hospital patients remain infectious after two weeks, according to secret advice papers published today. 

SAGE scientists warned the Government on May 28 that around 5 per cent of very unwell virus patients, mostly elderly people, can infect others beyond 14 days.

They said this poses a ‘risk for onwards transmission to carers’, care home workers and family members who may then go and pass the disease onto others.

Currently Britons with the disease are told to self-isolate for a maximum of 14 days, as that’s when the virus clears in most people. 

One of the scientific reports presented to ministers earlier this month also revealed the Government’s top experts still don’t know how accurate Covid-19 swab tests are.

SAGE experts admitted there was a dearth of research looking into how often the swabs – considered the gold standard of Covid testing – give false negatives. 

A review of previous studies on the PCR tests suggest one in five infected people get a faulty result, despite having experienced three days of symptoms. 

The Government was also warned that without a test and trace system that caught 80 per cent of cases within 48 hours, opening schools would cause the reproduction ‘R’ number to soar. 

Some 31 documents were today published by the Government Office for Science, which is headed by Sir Patrick Vallance, England’s chief scientific adviser.

The SAGE papers are being released in a bid to show greater transparency from the Government. 

They are among dozens in a tranche of papers presented to SAGE, the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, over recent months to help guide ministers through the crisis.

And the reports detail all the scientific advice which is being presented to decision-making officials who dictate when and how the country moves out of lockdown.

Files released today revealed scientists told the Government:

  • A YouGov poll on March 17 found more than half (55 per cent) of Brits were still going to bars pubs and restaurants and six in 10 were still seeing family members and friends from other households, despite Government guidance advising not to; 
  • NHS antibody testing scheme suggest 16 per cent of staff have had coronavirus and a FIFTH of hospital patients have recovered from the virus;
  • The Government has been warned since April 20 that taxi drivers and factory workers are among the most at-risk occupations for catching the disease;
  • SAGE experts admitted it still doesn’t know how often the Covid-19 swabs rolled out nationally in the UK give false negatives; 
  • Prisons, migrant centres, long stay mental health hospitals and homeless shelters could be potential Covid-19 breeding grounds in the future;
  • The Government has been told that coronavirus health messages tailored specifically for different ethnic groups are ‘particularly important’.

Versus catching 80 per cent of close contacts of Covid patients in the first two days

SAGE scientists warned that, without a test and trace system that caught 80 per cent of cases within 48 hours, the R would soar above one (shown left, if test and trace worked just 20 per cent of the time, compared to 80 per cent, right)