Selected parts of UK could be among first to have lockdown eased

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Selected parts of the UK could have their lockdown lifted before cities, according to England’s chief scientific adviser.

Addressing the Health and Social Care Committee, Sir Patrick Vallance confirmed coronavirus is more prevalent in cities than it is in rural places.

He explained the R rate is "potentially a bit variable across the country" but not hugely different, but that the incidents and prevalence of infection will be different.

Sir Patrick said: "We know that cities and densely-populated places have a higher prevalence than rural places, so that is definitely the case and an option that could be considered is to think about whether measures could be done locally versus nationally."

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He said difficulties around that could be with, for example, transport.

Sir Patrick added: "Once you go to a regional approach you effectively are saying that you are going to demarcate regions very carefully and you've got to control the flow between regions. But that is a possibility."

During the committee, Sir Patrick also told MPs fewer than one in six people have any sort of antibody protection to Covid-19.

Sir Patrick added that data from around five weeks ago suggested "something like a 10% antibody positivity in London", with 3% to 4% antibody positivity in other regions and even less in some areas.

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At the current time, he said he would "not expect to see antibody levels much above mid-teens" in any region.

This suggests fewer than one in six people have had coronavirus.