Fewer than one in 20 Scots likely to have had coronavirus

Just 4.3% of people in Scotland have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, according to new data.

Fewer than one in 20 Scots likely to have had coronavirus Getty Images
Covid: Antibodies research uses random blood samples.

Fewer than 5% of Scots are thought to have been exposed to coronavirus over the course of the pandemic, public health officials have said.

Just 4.3% of people in Scotland have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, a Public Health Scotland report found.

The results came from the random of testing of nearly 5000 blood samples throughout Scotland between the end of April and the end of June.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nicola Steedman revealed the figure at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

As Scotland was preparing for the virus to hit earlier this year, then-chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood warned between 60% and 80% of Scots could catch it.

Researching coronavirus antibodies helps to provide officials with more data on very mild or asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 that may have gone undetected.

Dr Steedman said the antibodies research suggested only “a fairly small” chunk of the population had so far been infected with Covid.

It comes as 11 new cases were reported in the last day, while the Scottish Government estimates around 700 people in the country in total are infectious.

Public health officials continue to put the R number – or reproduction rate – below one in Scotland, meaning the epidemic is shrinking.

Dr Steedman told the briefing: “Only a fairly small proportion of the population have so far likely been exposed to coronavirus in Scotland.

“And it is this low number of people likely exposed that explains and reinforces our ongoing messages to you.

“Firstly, that we need to be careful when we are easing out of lockdown and secondly, this is why we still want you to follow all of the current guidance on physical distancing and all the measures that we recommend in order to protect you, your loved ones and, in fact, protect all of us.”

The interim deputy CMO also sought to reassure the public on the use of personal data to form the new research on antibodies.

The 4751 blood samples tested came anonymously from routine blood checks carried out in healthcare settings across Scotland, she said.

Dr Steedman said data privacy is “a priority for all of us”, adding that personal data is used safely and only for the most important research projects.

Antibodies researchers look for the specific proteins that the human body produces to fight different types of infection.