More than a quarter of people in Reading may have already had Covid, according to new research.

Edge Health has estimated that 29.3 per cent of people in Reading have had coronavirus, as of December 28, 2020.

This is based on an estimated 47,482 cases, compared to the published figures of 7,002.

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The new modelling estimates the total number of cases in an area by comparing its number of deaths against an estimated infection fatality rate (IFR) – for more recent weeks data are based on extrapolations from reported case rates.

In comparison to Reading, 21 per cent of Wokingham residents are estimated to have had the virus, 14.9 per cent in Bracknell, and 13.4 per cent in West Berkshire.

Slough has similar figures to Reading (32 per cent), while 16.8 per cent of people in Windsor & Maidenhead are estimated to have had coronavirus.

The research suggests as many as 1 in 5 people, or 12.4 million, in England have had Covid-19. This is significantly higher than the 2.4 million reported cases by Public Health England (PHE).

George Batchelor, Cofounder and Director of Edge Health, said: “Reported tests are only a fraction of the picture of total infections, which show how badly hit London and the north-west have been during the pandemic.

“It is incredible that the level of understanding of where and how infections are occurring is not greater at this stage, since it would allow control measures to be more targeted.

“Even with imminent vaccinations, it is crucial to develop this understanding so that future variants of the virus can be effectively controlled and managed.”

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The estimates model the population thought to have had Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic – they may differ slightly from antibody studies, as people who were infected with Covid-19 may lose antibodies over time.

Jennifer Connolly, a consultant at Edge Health and lead analyst for the research, added:

“This modelling work allows us to draw a fair comparison between the current wave and the first wave in Spring, even though testing capacity has changed significantly.

“Our most recent estimates are currently projecting the highest numbers of new cases since the Spring. This is particularly the case in boroughs in and around London.”