Coronavirus could already have infected HALF the British population and been spreading in the UK since JANUARY, Oxford University study claims – as official death toll jumps record 87 in a day to 422 and confirmed cases rise by 1,427
Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, led a study into the infection rate of Covid-19
Today the UK’s coronavirus death toll rose to 422, while there have been 8,077 British cases reported
Modelling by Oxford’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group suggests Covid-19 first reached the UK by mid-January
By LUKE MAY and JOE MIDDLETON FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 20:20, 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 02:48, 25 March 2020
The coronavirus could have infected as much as half of the population of the United Kingdom, according to researchers at the University of Oxford – as the official death toll jumps a record 87 in one day to 422 and confirmed cases rise by 1,427.
The new model from Oxford University suggests the virus was circulating in the UK by mid-January, around two weeks before the first reported case and a month before the first reported death.
This means it could have had enough time to have spread widely, with many Britons acquiring immunity. Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology who led the study, said testing was needed to assess the theory.
‘We need immediately to begin large-scale serological surveys – antibody testing – to assess what stage of the epidemic we are in now,’ she said.
It comes after 87 more patients died overnight in England, including 21 at one NHS trust in London. Scotland also announced two fatalities, while Wales and Northern Ireland each confirmed another death.
By contrast, fifty-four infected Britons died the day before. The UK’s death toll has risen almost six-fold in the space of a week, with just 71 fatalities recorded last Tuesday.
Britain also saw a record spike in cases today, with 1,427 more patients known to have caught the virus as the total number of infected Britons passed 8,000.
But the true prevalence of the virus is hidden because of the Government’s decision only to test patients in hospital. The true size of the outbreak is likely to be closer to 400,000 which, if true, would mean the population-wide case fatality rate is very much lower than previously believed.