Men gathering to watch Euro 2020 football matches may be a potential reason why they were nearly a third more likely than women to test positive for coronavirus (Covid-19), experts have suggested.
Data from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori shows a notable difference between the number of men and women testing positive for the virus for the first time, researchers said.
Higher prevalence in men
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme from Imperial’s School of Public Health, told Sky News:
We saw the same in Scotland around the Euros and visits to Wembley and matches in Glasgow.
Clearly it’s not just going to the match but it’s going to the pub, being in close proximity.
We know how this virus is transmitted, it’s transmitted through close proximity to other people, some of whom may be infected and we also know from our data and other data that some people don’t know they have the virus and they don’t have symptoms but they carry the virus.
So it does come down again to this social distancing.
Prof Elliott added:
We have noticed in the current round that the prevalence is higher in men than women – around 0.7% in men and 0.5% in women.
And women have therefore something like a 30% reduced odds of testing positive in our study, once we’ve adjusted for other variables.
Asked why this might be the case, Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College, said fluctuations in transmission are likely to be caused by changes in social mixing.
And there’s lots of evidence that mixing inside is more likely to result in transmission than mixing outside.
If I had to speculate about the impact of the Euros … I would think about the increased probability that people are mixing inside more frequently than they otherwise would.
So my first thought wouldn’t immediately be to the stadium and the immediate surrounds, it would be about the more general behaviour of the population, but we don’t have results that speak to that directly in this study.
Prof Riley said:
Different things could be affecting it. I think the degree to which men and women are socialising is likely to be responsible.
And then because of the timing of that, then it could be that watching football is resulting in men having more social activity than usual.
Twice as many cases every six days
One in 170 people is infected and there is a recent doubling time of six days, the data suggests.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said “infection rates are three times lower for those who have had two vaccine doses”. In other words, people who are fully vaccinated have also been infected. He added:
It is more important than ever to get that life-saving second jab so we can continue to weaken the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths and build a wall of defence against the virus.
As we move from regulations to guidance and get back to our everyday lives, see our loved ones and return to work, it is vital people practise good sense and take personal responsibility for their own health and those around them.
Cases are expected to continue rising as restrictions are eased.
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