Why is anyone interested in the number of recorded cases of Covid 19? It might sound a daft question, given that we are in the middle of a pandemic, but it ought to be clear to anyone who spends a few minutes digging around the figures that it is a meaningless statistic. Count deaths, by all means, hospital admissions, ICU admissions – but as for the official figures of how many people have tested positive for the disease, it is pointless worrying about them.
Why? First, because we are only – and only ever have been – detecting a small fraction of total cases of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid 19. Take the UK. Officially, as of Monday evening, there have been 300,111 recorded cases of Covid 19. Yet serological tests by Public Health England suggest that 6.5 per cent of the population of England have antibodies suggesting they have at some point been infected with the virus – which works out at 4.2 million. In other words, the official count has only managed to capture one in 14 cases of the disease. Why so few? Because in the vast majority of cases – between 70 and 80 per cent according to some estimates – Covid 19 causes no symptoms whatsoever. Those infected have no reason to assume they are infected, no need to seek medical attention and no reason to seek being tested.