Coronavirus: Liverpool v Atletico Madrid may have led to death spike, data suggests

Last month’s Champions League tie between Liverpool and Atletico de Madrid may have led to a spike of coronavirus-related deaths on Merseyside, according to a leading supplier of data to the NHS.

The Telegraph outlines data from Edge Health suggest there was an apparent spike in death rates of a 3.5 factor within local hospital trusts compared with others not in the same area.

There were 3,000 Atleti fans who travelled to Merseyside for the Champions League Round of 16 clash last month, but a minority chose not to travel upon the behest of the Spanish government and health authorities.

The match at Anfield was held the day after Madrid announced that all its schools and colleges would shut due to the virus, which was also declared a pandemic the day before the match on 11 March.

782 confirmed coronavirus cases had been declared in Madrid by that date – just short of half of the Spanish total – while 35 Spaniards had died ahead of the game.

By this stage, all Spanish matches had been declared to be played behind closed doors – while days later football in Spain was suspended indefinitely.

“We need to understand more about how and when the virus is transmitted so that we can reduce and mitigate the risk of a second wave,” explained George Batchelor, a co-founder of Edge Health – whose data also showed spikes for the Cheltenham Festival and the Manchester derby, staged days before the Champions League clash.

“This analysis suggests there is a correlation between mass gatherings and infection and therefore mortality which needs to be investigated further.

“The close proximity of people and likelihood of someone carrying the disease make transmission far more likely to happen.”

Earlier this month, one of the UK’s leading scientists has described the idea of the Champions League tie acting as an accelerator for the spread of coronavirus an ‘interesting hypothesis’.

“I think it’ll be very interesting to see in the future, when all the science is done, what relationship there is between the viruses that have circulated in Liverpool and the viruses that have circulated in Spain,” deputy chief scientific advisor Angela McLean said at the UK government’s daily press conference on Monday, in quotes cited by The Independent.

Diego Simeone’s side memorably won the game 3-2 after extra time, coming from two goals down to stun the European champions and advance through to the quarter-finals.

“It was a mistake (to let fans attend),” Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida told an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero earlier this month.

“Atletico Madrid fans should not have travelled to Liverpool.”