More than half of people in Barking and Dagenham may have had Covid, data shows

People who know they are breaking the rules but still do it are selfish says letter writer Elaine Al

More than half of people in Barking and Dagenham may have had Covid-19, an analysis by Edge Health shows. - Credit: PA

More than half of people in Barking and Dagenham may have had Covid, an analysis has shown.

The study by Edge Health suggests the percentage of cases in the borough is more than seven times higher than the seven per cent recorded by January 3.

The data estimates there have been 115,000 infections out of a population of about 213,000, equivalent to 54 per cent, since the pandemic began. This represents the highest percentage of cases in England.

A spokesperson said Barking and Dagenham Council does not recognise the figures and is working with the government's numbers.

He added many of the characteristics making Barking and Dagenham a unique place contributed to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic.

"The north east London cluster has seen the highest case rates of the virus in the country, due to various reasons like overcrowding, deprivation, health inequality, and the fact lots of residents work in crucial frontline roles," he said.

He explained rising testing rates partly explain why positive case rates have gone up.

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"We have lots of different ways residents can get tested quickly – including asymptomatic testing which is increasingly finding positive cases where people have no symptoms.

"This is so important in giving us a chance to control the spread of the virus because those people, who had no idea they were positive, can isolate and reduce the risk to others," he added.

The town hall spokesperson urged people to follow the rules.

Edge Health's research suggests as many as one in five people, or 12.4 million, in England have had Covid, which is significantly higher than the 2.4m reported cases from Public Health England.

Total cases were estimated by looking at each local authority’s Covid-related deaths as published by the Office for National Statistics and their estimated infection fatality ratio.

This is calculated by looking at a local authority’s age profile and applying age-specific infection fatality ratios from University of Cambridge research.

George Batchelor, Edge Health's co-founder and director, said: “It is incredible that the level of understanding of where and how infections are occurring is not greater at this stage, since it would allow control measures to be more targeted.

“Even with imminent vaccinations, it is crucial to develop this understanding so that future variants of the virus can be effectively controlled and managed.”