Some 96,000 people are becoming infected with Covid-19 every day in England, researchers suggest.
According to the latest results of the ongoing REACT 1 study, which is being conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, the prevalence of Covid-19 infection has doubled since the beginning of October.
An estimated 128 people per 10,000 people in England have the virus that causes Covid-19 infection, compared with 60 per 10,000 as of 5 October, the researchers said.
Infection was most common in people aged 18 to 24 (2.2%), but the steepest rise was seen in people aged 55 to 64, where the infection rate has tripled since the researchers’ previous round of reporting (from 0.37% to 1.2%).
They said the number of infections was doubling every nine days, with the overall reproduction number (R number) at 1.6.
In some areas, such as the South East, South West and London, R was estimated to be above 2. However, overall prevalence of the virus in these areas is relatively low at 0.55%, 0.72% and 0.89% respectively.
Prevalence was highest in Yorkshire and The Humber, at 2.7%. This suggests roughly one in 40 people in the region have the virus.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial College London, said: “These interim findings paint a concerning picture of the situation in England, where we’re seeing a nationwide increase in infection prevalence, which we know will lead to more hospitalisations and loss of life. We’re also detecting early signs that areas which previously had low rates of infection are following trends observed in the country’s worst-affected areas.
“Now more than ever we must all work together to curb further spread of the virus and avoid subsequent overwhelming of the health service.”
The REACT 1 study involves testing more than 150,000 randomly selected people each month over a two week period. Participants take nose and throat swabs at home.
Out of 85,971 swabs analysed in its latest round of testing, 863 were positive.