Largest testing programme for coronavirus publishes its initial findings

Over 120,000 volunteers tested across England between 1 May and 1 June as part of the country’s largest study into coronavirus.  The research shows the rates of infection fell during May, the last month of lockdown, halving every 8 to 9 days. There were on average 13 positive cases for every 10,000 people, with an overall reproduction number of 0.57 – lower than previously reported.

The key findings include:

  • Young adults, aged 18 to 24, were more likely to test positive than other age groups, reinforcing the need for this age group to adhere to social distancing measures to protect vulnerable friends and family
  • Those of Asian ethnicity were more likely to test positive than those of white ethnicity. It is possible that higher infection rates have contributed towards the higher death rates observed in this ethnic group
  • Care home staff and healthcare workers were more likely to be infected with COVID-19 during lockdown than the general population, at a time when the public was following government advice to stay at home, therefore limiting their exposure to the virus. Those who had patient-facing roles were more likely to be in contact with known cases as part of their work

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