Two in five people in Tower Hamlets may have had Covid-19.

A study by Edge Health suggests the percentage of cases in the East End is more than six times higher than the six per cent recorded by January 3.

The analysis estimates there have been 129,000 cases out of a population of about 325,000, equivalent to 40pc, since the pandemic began. This represents the sixth highest percentage of cases in England, according to the study. Barking and Dagenham is identified as the highest.

A council spokesperson said that since March 4, there have been 22,646 confirmed cases in Tower Hamlets, representing 7pc of the borough’s population.

She added: "Not all cases have a test result so we know the true number will be greater than this, and this was particularly the case in the first wave. It is difficult to comment on the modelled figures.

"We have worked hard on increasing our testing capacity to help us identify and, most critically, contact trace and ensure people are self isolating."

She explained Tower Hamlets has the tenth highest testing rate in London with 1,937 tests per 100,000 population.

In the last week, 89.3pc of cases were contact traced by NHS Test and Trace and 93.2pc of their close contacts responded.

Edge Health's research suggests as many as one in five people, or 12.4million, in England have had Covid-19, which is significantly higher than the 2.4m reported cases from Public Health England.

Total cases were estimated by looking at each local authority’s Covid-19-related deaths as published by the Office for National Statistics and their estimated infection fatality ratio.

This is calculated by looking at a local authority’s age profile and applying age-specific infection fatality ratios from University of Cambridge research.

George Batchelor, Edge Health's co-founder and director, said: “It is incredible that the level of understanding of where and how infections are occurring is not greater at this stage, since it would allow control measures to be more targeted.

“Even with imminent vaccinations, it is crucial to develop this understanding so that future variants of the virus can be effectively controlled and managed.”

The council’s advice remains that everyone must follow government rules.

Full details of what can and cannot be done can be found here.