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Fourteen per cent of people in West Midlands have had Covid-19, figures suggest

PA Media (44021866)
PA Media (44021866)

An estimated one in eight people in England would have tested positive for antibodies to Covid-19 by December last year, up from one in 14 in October, new figures show.

Antibody data on infection in private households suggests that one in 10 in Wales had also been infected by December, alongside one in 13 in Northern Ireland and one in 11 in Scotland.

The figures come from the Office for National Statistic’s Covid-19 Infection Survey in partnership with the University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust.

They are based on the proportion of the population who are likely to have tested positive for antibodies to Covid-19, based on blood test results from a sample of people aged 16 and over, but do not reflect all the people who have had coronavirus and do not take account of antibodies waning over time.

People in private households in England testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies
People in private households in England testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies

The ONS found “substantial variation” between regions in England, with 17% of people in private households in Yorkshire and the Humber estimated to have tested positive for antibodies in December, compared with 5% in south-west England.

In London, the figure was 16% in December, up from 11% in October, while it was 15% in the North West, up from 6% in October.

In the West Midlands, 14% have had Covid, up from 8% in October, while 8% in the South East and the East of England have had the virus, both up from 5% in October.

The study came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he is self-isolating after receiving an alert through the NHS Covid-19 app.

In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “Last night I was pinged by the NHS coronavirus app, so that means I’ll be self-isolating at home, not leaving the house at all until Sunday.”

Mr Hancock, who has previously had coronavirus, said self-isolating is important because it is “how we break the chains of transmission”.

Covid-19 patients in hospital in England.
Covid-19 patients in hospital in England.

Meanwhile, some family doctors continue to express their frustration about the roll-out of vaccines across the UK.

The latest figures showed 4,133,720 people in England, Scotland and Wales have received a first dose of vaccine.

With more than half of the over-80s and half of elderly care home residents having received the jab, ministers have now given the go-ahead to begin vaccinating the next priority groups – the over-70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said “there will be an overlap” between those in the first group getting their jab and those in the second as the NHS keeps up the momentum of the vaccine roll-out.

He told LBC radio: “We’re very clear that areas should be getting through the majority of the first cohort before they move on to the second cohort, but there will be an overlap.

“The reality is, as you’re moving through these, as you start to bring the second cohort in, there will be a bit of an overlap.

“So, while they’re still finishing cohort one, some people from the second cohort will be having their vaccines and being contacted.

“That’s understandable because the other alternative is you get through cohort one and you pause before you can start getting cohort two in and that would be wrong.

“In order to keep things flowing and moving we will see some overlap, but areas should be getting through the majority of cohort one before they start moving to cohort two.”

Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales.
Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales.

On Monday night, Mr Hancock acknowledged that some parts of the country had made better progress than others in vaccinating those in the top priority group, but said more supplies of the vaccine are being pumped to areas that have fallen behind.

Nevertheless, some GPs have taken to social media saying they are “crying out for more vaccines” and that their elderly patients want to be vaccinated in local surgeries rather than having to travel further afield to mass centres.

The government believes it is still on track to vaccinate around 15 million high-priority people across the UK by February 15.

Once those vaccines have taken effect, around two to three weeks later ministers will consider whether lockdown measures can be eased in England.

Despite pressure from Tory MPs to move as quickly as possible, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned there will be no “open sesame” moment when restrictions will all be lifted together.


– Wales’s health minister, Vaughan Gething, said 70% of care home residents and staff in the country should have received a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this week. He expects over-70s in Wales to be invited for their vaccinations “in the near future”.

– ONS figures show that more than a quarter of all care home deaths in England and Wales registered in the week ending January 8 involved coronavirus – 960 out of 3,395.

– Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has said she is “baffled” why frontline officers are not closer to the front of the queue to receive a vaccine.

– Figures from the Department for Education show 21% of primary school pupils were on-site last week, while 5% of secondary school students were in class.

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