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Report estimates over half the Welsh population have had Covid since the early months of the pandemic

22 Apr 2022 3 minute read
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Over half the population of Wales are likely to have contracted Covid-19 since the early months of the pandemic, according to a new analysis from the Office for National Statistics.

Although the pandemic started in March 2020, the ONS’s Covid-19 infection survey didn’t get underway until the following month and the separate Welsh stats run from eight weeks later.

The new report reveals that 1.7 million people in Wales – or 56.0% of the population – are likely to have had Covid-19 between June 30, 2020, and February 11, 2022.

The figures for Wales are significantly lower than in England where an estimated 38.5 million people in private households – or 70.7% of the population – have had at least one infection since the end of April 2020.

In Scotland, 2.7 million people (51.5% of the population) had the virus between September 22, 2020, and February 11 this year

In Northern Ireland, 1.3 million people, the equivalent of 72.2% of the population, are estimated to have had Covid-19 between July 27 2020 and February 11 2022.


The new analysis is the first time an attempt has been made to calculate the cumulative number of people who have had Covid-19 over much of the pandemic.

All figures are for people in private households and do not include those in hospitals, care homes and other communal establishments.

The data also shows how each wave of the virus has pushed up the cumulative number of people to have been infected.

By the start of the second wave in September 2020, the proportion of the population in England to have had Covid-19 since April 27 was still very low, at just under 2%.

As the second wave took off, this jumped to 10% by mid-December and 15% by mid-January 2021.

The figure then rose slowly, reaching 25% in early August and 40% by the end of November.

But once the Omicron wave began, the rate of the increase quickened sharply, with the proportion reaching 50% by late December, 60% by mid-January 2022 and 70% by early February.

The ONS Covid-19 infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of coronavirus across the country and of how many people have been infected at least once.

It is a nationally representative survey that tests a large sample of people each month.

The same people are retested, regardless of whether they have symptoms, which means the survey can identify both infections and reinfections as well as asymptomatic cases.

The ONS figures run up to February 11, 2022, so do not include people who have been infected for the first time in recent weeks.

Weekly figures 

Meanwhile, the latest weekly figures from the ONS confirm Covid-19 infections have fallen simultaneously in all four UK nations for the first time since the middle of January.

Wales has seen infections drop for the first time in seven weeks, with 198,400 people estimated to have coronavirus, or one in 15 of the population – down from 231,900, or one in 13 last week.

In England, infections have fallen for the second week running, with 3.2 million people likely to test positive for Covid-19, or one in 17 – down from 3.8 million, or one in 14.

Covid cases in Scotland have fallen for the fourth week in a row. Some 281,400 people were estimated to have had the virus last week, or around one in 19. This is down from 314,800 people, or one in 17, the previous week.

In Northern Ireland, 65,300 people were likely to have had Covid-19 last week, or one in 30, down from 95,900 people, or one in 19.

This is the lowest estimate for Northern Ireland since just before Christmas 2021.

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