TThe number of coronavirus infections is increasing across the UK, but until recently it was the cities of northern England that were burning like barrels of gunpowder while London was burning but not on fire. But advertising for it Class II restrictions The (high alert level) that will be imposed on the capital from Saturday portends the possibility that people in London will not escape a second wave.
Infection rates at 12 London Municipalities have already exceeded 100 cases per 100,000; Richmond upon Thames tops the list with 140.
Some scientists have suggested that previous hotspots may be less affected in the second round due to higher rates of immunity, or altered behavior patterns. Others think it’s only a matter of time before the capital ignites in earnest.
Here are some leading theories about the differences between regions of Britain in rates of Covid-19 infection.
If enough people develop immunity to SARS-CoV-2, preventing the virus from spreading freely, Londoners may be able to breathe a little more easily. But the level of herd immunity to this coronavirus is estimated at 60% of the population, which is the most recent Public health data for England It indicates that only 17.5% of Londoners have antibodies to it.
It is possible for some people to have T-cell immunity, which can build up independently of the antibodies. It is also possible that some pockets of London have a higher prevalence of antibodies than others, but this is still unlikely to happen. Herd immunity Levels.
“My reading tells me that herd immunity cannot be achieved without a vaccine,” said David Alexander, professor at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London.
work at home
London has large numbers of White collar workers, And relatively few people work in manufacturing, retail and wholesale, compared to other parts of the UK. Many office workers can, and now, work remotely.
Not everyone can better isolate themselves by working from home, said James Cheshire, professor of geographic information and cartography at the University of California, but this step may be enough to reduce infection rates.
There is much less congestion and mixing on public transport. Analyzing people’s activity patterns Cheshire and colleagues noted that people were still making far fewer trips to central London than before the lockdown, while other cities were approaching normality in such movements.
He said: “I think the interesting question for London is whether the mixing that occurs in homes is what drives the current increase in the cases we see.” If so, then Level 2 restrictions, which prohibit internal socialization, can have a major impact.
Londoners are more cautious about socializing
Although compliance with social distancing guidelines was initially high across the UK, it is possible that people in London, worried about the high rates of infection with the Coronavirus during the spring, became later more cautious about visiting public places such as restaurants, malls and museums. And movie theaters.
Anonymous data collected by GoogleFrom apps like Google Maps, it indicates that, compared to January 2020, visits to such places decreased by 30% and 31% in Merseyside and Greater Manchester, while in Greater London it decreased by 39%.
However, UCL professor Alexander noted that more caution had been noticed by the public in Italy, except that the country was once again seeing a huge spike in Covid-19 cases.
Greater deprivation in northern England
More than half of the most affected areas in Birmingham and Manchester are among the poorest in England. In Liverpool it is closer to Thirds. It has been shown that people in poor areas are more likely to be exposed to Sars-CoV-2.
“Those with low-paying, public-facing jobs are often categorized as primary workers who should work outside the home and may travel to work on public transportation,” said Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St Andrews. Job and financial insecurity can make people less likely to comply with social restrictions, while overcrowded families may make it more difficult. Self-isolation.
“People say viruses don’t discriminate. This is a fundamental misunderstanding – viruses discriminate against the most vulnerable parts of our society,” said Callum Semple, a consultant respiratory disease consultant at Alder Hay Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and a member of Sage.
London has pockets of extreme deprivation and overcrowding. But Richard Harris, a professor of quantitative social geography at the University of Bristol, said: “The nature of the jobs there, and the nature of wealth there for some people, means that London was able to adapt differently. [compared with] Other areas. “
It was not certain whether this would be sufficient to protect capital from the brunt of the second wave. Harris said: “It’s in their favor, but I don’t think we can take it for granted.” “Also, while the capital itself may be spared the full blows of a second wave, I am not sure that one could say the same about all of those within the capital. There are people at risk in London as in other cities.”
Timing of ending lockdown restrictions
Another possibility is that infection rates in northern England cities were never as low as they were in London and the South during the period of national lockdown, so once these restrictions were eased, “embers” re-ignited the northern regions. Analysis by the audience the health England found some areas of Manchester, Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale It didn’t really leave the epidemic stage Despite the social restrictions imposed.
Less impact of the virus in some cities
Cities in southwest England avoided a significant first wave and until recently the number of known cases remained relatively low. Relatively low population density, poor public transportation infrastructure, and proximity to the countryside were all possible explanations.
Harris said, “Bristol is also a fairly wealthy city which is very much self-sufficient, so it does not attract large numbers of people, like cities in the Midlands or London.”
However, Bristol residents shouldn’t feel good about themselves. The city’s infection rate is now rising, at 120 new cases per 100,000 people. Harris said, “There is an element of randomness in this, because all you need is a super ubiquitous event in a city, and if you don’t discover it soon enough, you might have a big problem on your hands very quickly.”