Between 25 and 30 per cent of Londoners may have already caught the coronavirus, according to Imperial’s ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson.
Professor Ferguson — whose grim modelling showing that 500,000 Britons could die unless action was taken spooked ministers into the first national shutdown last March — has co-authored a comprehensive study on the course of Britain’s outbreak.
The total infection figure comes from data based on analysis of blood donors in the UK aged between 15 and 65.
It reveals London as the region of the country with the highest proportion of its population that has been infected with the virus.
Research by Imperial academics, published recently on medRxiv , reveals that at the start of December 15.4 per cent of London’s population had contracted the virus.
Professor Ferguson, a member of SAGE, told MailOnline: ‘In London a total of 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the population may now have been infected throughout the epidemic.’
He says London is the hardest hit region in the country and numbers are therefore lower elsewhere.
Fresh analysis published by academics at the University of Cambridge uses a different statistical method but found the attack rate in London is 30 per cent.
For the country as a whole, the cumulative infection rate is now 19 per cent and the lowest region is the South West, at eight per cent.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson — whose grim modelling that 500,000 Britons could die unless action was taken spooked ministers into the first national shutdown last March — co-authored a comprehensive study on the course of Britain’s outbreak
Cambridge’s Nowcast features data until January 11 and works out the change in cases, deaths, death rate and number of infections, as well as calculating total cumulative infections – also known as the attack rate.
Attack rate by region
East of England
Yorkshire and the Humber
It estimates England’s total number of infections now sits at 10.7million, with London the biggest contributor, at 2.63million.
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan today complained about the city’s Covid vaccine supply, after NHS figures revealed it has given jabs to fewer people than any other region.
Only two per cent of people in the capital were vaccinated against coronavirus by January 10, compared to five per cent in the North East and Yorkshire.
Mr Khan said: ‘I am hugely concerned that Londoners have received only a tenth of the vaccines that have been given across the country.’
London is currently England’s region worst-hit by coronavirus but both cases, hospital admissions and deaths across the capital have started to slow down.
The Imperial study created a computer model to track SARS-CoV-2 infections in care homes and the wider community.
It reveals people who have caught coronavirus are now more likely to survive than those who got Covid-19 at the start of the first wave.
The infection fatality rate has fallen from 1.25 per cent to 0.77 per cent nationally, driven by a greater understanding of the disease and improvements in treating it.
Since March 2020, dexamethasone has emerged as a drug which reduces risk of death by up to 35 per cent in ventilated patients.
A recent study also found the anti-inflammatory drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab slash the risk of death even further.
Results of the trial showed people who only received dexamethasone had a death rate of 35.8 per cent. This dropped to just 25.3 per cent when they were also given either tocilizumab or sarilumab.
However, death rate among elderly people in care homes is still alarmingly high at 35.9 per cent.
Researchers also looked at the effectiveness of prior lockdowns and found that of all the non-pharmaceutical interventions that have become commonplace, only full lockdown has succeeded in forcing R below 1.
The findings also reinforce the fact that dithering and delaying in introducing full lockdown in March 2020 cost thousands of lives .
‘[If lockdown was] introduced one week earlier it could have reduced first wave deaths from 36,700 to 15,700,’ the researchers write.
Dr Lilith Whittles, author of the report from Imperial College London said: ‘Our work pulls together the many different perspectives we have on the COVID-19 epidemic in England to form a complete picture of the first two waves of the epidemic.
‘Above all our findings emphasise the vital importance of acting fast to save lives.’
Professor Ferguson also said today that Britain’s lockdown rules may be needed until the autumn.
Asked if there could be restrictions for many months to come, he said: ‘Yes, and we can’t predict all of these things in advance.
‘We couldn’t have predicted this new variant coming up, but the new variant without doubt will make the relaxation of restrictions more difficult because it is substantially more transmissible.’
Professor Ferguson added: ‘It will be a gradual process to the autumn.’
Dr Susan Hopkins, one of the top officials at Public Health England (PHE), also added that England was likely going to have a ‘difficult time at least until Easter’.
Previous coronavirus infection gives people immunity for five months – MORE than the Oxford vaccine
People previously infected with the coronavirus have more protection against reinfection five months later than people getting the Oxford vaccine, and the same level of immunity that is provided by the Pfizer jab, a Public Health England (PHE) study has found.
Data from PHE’s SIREN study, which follows more than 20,000 healthcare workers at more than 100 sites across Britain, looked at how many members of NHS staff in the study group caught the virus more than once.
A total of 6,614 workers were found to have had the virus in early 2020, either through antibody testing, PCR swabs or clinical evaluation based on symptoms.
Just 44 people from this group later tested positive for the coronavirus as a result of reinfection.
PHE scientists say this means previous infection confers 83 per cent protection against reinfection, and also reduces the likelihood of developing symptoms and severe disease.