A GERMAN study of the country’s death rate could mean that as many as 7.9million Brits have been infected with the coronavirus.
The research paper by the University of Bonn suggests that the true infection total may be more than 40 times the official figures in the UK, and ten times higher in Germany.
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From this figure, the scientists extrapolated that Germany must have ten times more infections than first thought – potentially at 1.8million.
The official figures record 166,424 infections, and 6,993 deaths, but to get the 0.37 per cent figure you would have to have an infection count of almost two million to account for the number of deaths.
Study author professor Hendrik Streeck said you can confidently “assume” the total figure from the data.
And then this same working applied to Britain, taking the latest official figure of 29,424, would mean the infection total would have to be as high as 7.9million as compared to the official figure of 194,990, more than 40 times higher.
This does not factor in potential unrecorded deaths in the equation.
With the death toll compared to the potential figure, that would mean millions of Brits may have had the deadly virus and survived.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Infections are widely believed to be underestimated due to a variety of reasons such as lack of testing and asymptomatic cases – and coronavirus may even arrived in Europe as early as November.
Lots of other factors also impact death rates – which may not be able to be extrapolated across countries – such as lifestyle, and countries are also at different stages of the pandemic.
Germany is known to have carried out widespread testing since the early start of the outbreak, and large amounts of contact tracing to track down other cases.
It is because this that the official infection total is so high alongside the relatively small death toll – with other European nations Britain, France, Italy and Spain all approaching the grim milestone of 30,000.
The German study has only released its preliminary results, which have yet to be peer reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.
Prof Streeck and co-author Professor Gunther Hartmann said the results serve as a reminder of the dangers of infection by unidentified carriers of the virus as nations in Europe begin to ease their lockdowns under the threat of a second wave.
Professor Hartmann said: “The results can help to further improve the models to calculate how the virus spreads. So far the underlying data has been relatively weak.”
The team analysed blood and nasal swabs from a random sample of 919 people living in Gangelt to come up with the death rate of 0.37%.
They also found that around one in five of those infected showed no symptoms of the virus.
Applied to the UK’s suggested figure of 7.9million, that would mean up to 1.58million carriers are completely unaware they had the coronavirus.
Martin Exner, head of Bonn University’s Institute for Hygiene and Public Health and co-author of the study, said: “The fact that apparently every fifth infection progresses without noticeable disease symptoms suggests that infected persons who shed the virus and who can thereby infect others cannot be reliably identified on the basis of recognisable disease symptoms.”
He added: “Every supposedly healthy person we encounter can unknowingly carry the virus. We must be aware of this and act accordingly.”
As the paper goes for review by other scientists, the researchers said the study hammers home the need for continued social distancing.
Experts at the University of Goettingen released a study last month that suggested national totals should be in the millions.
They estimated the the UK already had two million people infected by the end of March, while they estimated Spain had six million, and the US had 12million.
Accurate figures on infections are very difficult to trace, and that is what makes the decision about easing the lockdown even more difficult for ministers – with unknown carriers potentially spreading a devastating second wave.
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