London Orthodox Jewish community has "one of the world's highest rates of Covid infection"

Roughly 15,000 of London's strictly Orthodox Jews have contracted coronavirus, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found.

This gives the community a past infection rate of 64%, nine times higher than the UK average of 7%.

The rate is "among the highest reported anywhere in the world" the study found.

Working closely with the community, the research team invited more than 1,750 individuals to complete a demographic and medical information survey and provide a blood sample between November and early December 2020. This was then tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

Blood samples from 1,242 individuals were collected. The overall infection rate was found to be 64%, which is one of the highest rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection recorded anywhere in the world.

The lowest rate was in children aged under five years (28%), and the highest in secondary school children and adults (75%). Overall, men were found to have a higher rate of infection than women.

As the study was conducted in December 2020, before a national surge in coronavirus cases, researchers believed "it is likely" the rate is now even higher.

The reason for this higher prevalence remains unclear, the study said.

High rates of overcrowded homes and higher levels of deprivation among London's strictly-Orthodox Jewish Community could be linked to the increased rate, researchers said.

The BBC has reported that high infection rates have also been partly blamed on misleading legal advice that has been circulating in community newsletters, which says wedding celebrations can have "as many guests as one likes".

The average household in the community is five-to-six individuals, compared to a UK average of 2.3 per house.

But Jewish men are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than Christian men in the UK, even after adjusting for socio-economic factors.

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