One in 10 COVID-19 Patients in UK Caught Virus in Hospital

By Reuters Staff

August 20, 2021

(Reuters) - During the first wave of the pandemic, more than one in ten COVID-19 patients in the UK caught the virus while they were in hospital for other reasons, researchers reported in The Lancet.

The study was based on data from 314 UK hospitals related to diagnoses that were made before August 2020.

Dr. Chris Green of the University of Birmingham, who coauthored the report, said in a statement that the early lack of resources - such as rapid, reliable tests for the virus, personal protective equipment, and isolation facilities - and "under-appreciation of the role of airborne transmission" contributed to the UK's high rate of hospital-acquired COVID-19.

The UK experience might not reflect experiences in other countries. In the United States, doctors at a large New York cancer hospital found less than 1% of patients became infected while hospitalized from March 2020 through February 2021, according to a study published last month in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Separately, a large Harvard University teaching hospital reported just one case of hospital-acquired COVID-19 among 8,370 patients during the first four months of the pandemic, thanks to "rigorous infection control measures."

The Harvard doctors reported in JAMA Network Open last September, "These results, especially if replicated at other U.S. hospitals, should provide reassurance to patients." (

SOURCES: The Lancet, online August 12, 2021. Clinical Infectious Diseases, online July 30, 2021.