More than seven in 10 people in England have been infected with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The estimate, the most detailed analysis to date, suggests 71% of people in England had caught Covid between 27 April 2020 and 11 February 2022. The proportion is likely to have risen further in the most recent Omicron wave, during which there was the highest prevalence at any time in the pandemic, including in older age groups that had previously had relatively low rates of infection.
Prof James Naismith, the director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute at the University of Oxford, said: “The total number of infected people was rising rapidly when the data stopped. The bottom line is the majority of people in the UK have had Covid-19.”
The analysis used a sample of 535,116 people who completed one or more tests as part of the UK coronavirus infection survey (CIS), which covers people over the age of two years living in private households.
Slightly lower proportions of the population were estimated to have been infected in Wales (56%) and Scotland (52%), but the figures are not directly comparable as the data covered a shorter time period, with Welsh data starting in June 2020 and Scotland in September 2020. In Northern Ireland, 72% of the population were estimated to have been infected.
Duncan Cook, the deputy director for the Covid-19 infection survey, said: “Today’s release is a valuable piece of the puzzle for understanding the impact of the pandemic across the UK.”