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Study of an ultra-Orthodox community in London finds most caught, beat COVID

Research on group of 1,800 Jews in UK shows 64% recovered from coronavirus, a far higher rate than the general population

Illustrative: A row of ambulances parked outside the Royal London Hospital in London, December 29, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Illustrative: A row of ambulances parked outside the Royal London Hospital in London, December 29, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

JTA — In a study of 1,800 people from a single Jewish ultra-Orthodox community in London, 64 percent of those tested appeared to have contracted and beat the coronavirus, researchers said.

The study, which researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine conducted at the request of the community in question, looked into seroprevalence, which is the rate of past infection, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

Among working-age adults tested in the sample, seroprevalence was at 74%, compared to 64% of the overall group, according to the report, which has not been peer-reviewed.

The researchers declined to name the community they tested to “avoid broader social tension,” the Financial Times reported.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that seroprevalence is around 7% in the general population of the United Kingdom and 11% in London.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the UK may have a higher seroprevalence rate because they tend to have large families, with closer contact between family and community members. The average number of children in ultra-Orthodox communities is more than twice the 2.3 national average, the researchers said.

In recent weeks, the British media reported at length about routine violations by ultra-Orthodox people of emergency measures to stem the virus’ spread. However, one of the researchers behind the study, Michael Marks, said the violations do not account for the unusual rate of seroprevalence among the community.

“The shape of the curve during wave one shows people did curtail their interactions,” he said.

Additional minorities, including Muslims and Asians, also displayed a higher-than-average infection rate in the United Kingdom.

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