Nearly a fifth of people in England have still never caught Covid, top statisticians believe.
It means around 10.3million have managed to dodge the virus since the pandemic began three years ago, in theory.
Rates shot up quickest during the winter of 2021, the Office for National Statistics believes.
Thirty per cent of the country were assumed to have ever been infected before the original Omicron wave kicked off. This doubled to 60 per cent by the time it began to wind down.
For comparison, just 6.3 per cent of people in England are thought to have had the virus by April 26 2020 — roughly a month after the first lockdown.
Official figures predict that 81.68% of England’s population had contracted the pandemic-triggering virus as of November 11
An Office of National Statistics analysis has calculated how each much of each Covid wave infected the population of England. The latest, Omicron BA.4/5, was the biggest infecting 46.3 per cent of the population. Individuals could be represented twice in the data having, for example, caught Covid once at the start of the pandemic, then again during the Omicron surge
The ONS estimate that under 950,000 Brits were carrying the virus on any given day in the week to January 24. This was down by 15 per cent on the week before, marking the lowest toll since mid September
The most recent total prevalence estimate stands at 81.6 per cent.
This only goes up to November 11, however, which is before the most recent wave truly kicked off.
But the ONS figures are merely estimates.
And experts believe eventually everyone will catch Covid, given how contagious it has become over time.
Leanne Massie, a senior statistical officer at ONS, said: ‘Determining the total number of people infected throughout the whole pandemic is more challenging as we cannot simply add the total infections together.
‘This is due to the increasing number of people who have had Covid more than once.’
To accurately estimate how many people have had Covid, statisticians focused on those who have never been infected.
Their ‘experimental’ method — based on a regular surveillance scheme that swabs tens of thousands of Brits — removed people after they had been counted for a first infection.
‘People cannot be counted more than once using this method,’ she said.
Separate ONS figures last week revealed that England’s biggest Covid wave was also not the one that thrust the country into lockdown.
Omicron sub-variants BA.4/5, which struck the UK between June and November in 2022, year were the most virulent, the figures showed.
Roughly 46.5 per cent of the population caught Covid in that period, according to the ONS analysis.
But that analysis included reinfections, not just people who were infected for the first time.
Despite the surge in the number of people infected last year, death rates fell.
Health advisers credited the immunisation drive for drastically blunting the threat of the virus, saving tens of thousands of lives.
MailOnline this week revealed that just a third of people in some English neighbourhoods have ever had a Covid jab.
Approximately 13million people across the nation have still never been vaccinated against the virus — despite the historic programme having opened over two years ago.
It comes as the multi-billion pound immunisation drive starts to be wound down as the country settles further into post-pandemic life.
Under-50s can no longer get a booster dose as of today, with ministers and health officials planning to rescind the invites for first and second doses over the coming year.
Government figures, available as an interactive map here, show a huge disparity in Covid vaccine take-up across the nation since the scheme launched in December 2020.
This chart shows the number of Covid deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic. The latest figures show about 100 deaths per day in the last week of December, up from about 40 a week in November. The increase is far cry from the darkest days in of the pandemic, January 2021 when some 1,200 daily deaths were recorded
Government data analysed by MailOnline shows Covid vaccination rates are below 50 per cent in over 20 areas of England. Harehills South in Leeds has the dubious honour being the least jabbed in the country, with only 37.5 per cent of people there having been vaccinated
MailOnline analysis of England’s 6,700-plus districts found that, in some, two out of three people have shunned even the very first offer.
Just 37.5 per cent of people living in Harehills South in Leeds have had their first jab, according to the data based on all over-12s.
It was followed by the neighbourhoods of Ayresome, Middlesbrough (44.3 per cent), and Headington in Oxford (44.4 per cent).
Twenty-five districts have an uptake of below 50 per cent, according to the stats.
East Preston & Rustington East in Arun, Sussex, and Whickham in Gateshead had the joint-highest vaccination rate in the country for first Covid jab doses at 94.1 per cent.