Convid19: Up to 6,500,000 ‘could have virus in the UK’

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Data from a coronavirus symptom tracker app suggests that 10% of people in the UK could be infected. People have been asked to download the COVID Symptom Tracker and report how they are feeling daily, whether or not they are unwell.

Designed by scientists at Kings College London, the app aims to build up a picture of the levels of infection in the UK. By today, more than 1.25 million people had downloaded it. Analysis of the first 650,000 users showed that around 10% of them had symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

If this was accurate across the UK population, it would mean around 6.6 million people are suffering with the disease.

However, there is a note of caution as the people downloading the app may be more likely to do so if they have symptoms, so the true number in the population may be lower.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s, told the Telegraph: ‘From the initial responses so far around 10 percent of people are reporting symptoms associated with Covid-19, although many of these are mild.

If after we analyse the results and separate out the unrelated from related symptoms we could find that a large proportion of the population could have been affected, possibly millions.’

He added: ‘Although you can have problems of self-selection and bias, when you’ve got big data like this you tend to trust it more. What we’re seeing is a lot of mild symptoms, so I think having this data should help people relax a bit more and stop seeing it as an all or nothing Black Death situation.’

Another study from researchers at the University of Oxford claimed up to half of the UK population may have already had coronavirus.

The study claims the disease reached the UK by mid-January ‘at the latest’ and appears to counter the modelling at Imperial College London, which the government has based its responsive measures on so far during the pandemic.

Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, led the study and says the UK must ramp up antibody testing to discover the true stage of the pandemic in Britain. However, this study has not yet been peer-reviewed.


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