Suspected cases of COVID-19 recorded by GPs at the height of the pandemic were three times higher than officially confirmed infections, according to new research.
The study suggests that coronavirus was more prevalent among the population than previously thought.
Many people who contracted COVID-19, including those with mild symptoms, will not have been tested, lead author Dr Sally Hull said.
Others may not have been able to access test centres.
Between 14 February and 30 April, GPs recorded 8,985 suspected cases, triple the number of people found positive at test centres over the same period.
The research, undertaken by Queen Mary University of London, discovered that people with dementia were seven times more at risk of developing a suspected case of the disease.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) adults were twice as likely to present with suspected symptoms than white adults.
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That increased risk was not necessarily because of factors such as other health conditions, obesity or social deprivation, the research found.
Unlike other studies, it discovered that women were at a slightly increased risk of becoming infected with a suspected infection compared to men.
Higher risks for men "emerge later in the disease trajectory", the research suggested.
Suspected cases were studied because test results were not sent to GPs during the study period.
Anonymised data was taken from the primary care records of about 1.2m adults registered with 157 practices in four east London clinical commissioning grouRead More – Source