Liverpool’s Champions League game against Atletico Madrid at Anfield contributed to an increase in coronavirus deaths in the UK, a scientist has said.
Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, said the game and the Cheltenham Festival in March had “caused increased suffering and death that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred”.
He said data from an app used to report COVID-19 symptoms showed that Cheltenham and the North West both became “key hotspots” for the coronavirus.
The round of 16 second leg tie was allowed to go ahead despite several European countries and cities already being in lockdown at the time.
The UK government contends the events took place within “clear guidance” given at the time.
About 52,000 spectators watched as Liverpool were knocked out of the competition by Atletico 4-2 on aggregate following a 3-2 win after extra time.
That number included around 3000 visiting supporters from Madrid where all large gatherings had been suspended.
By the time lockdown measures were introduced in the UK, coronavirus cases stood at 6,650 and the number of deaths was 336.
The number of deaths has since skyrocketed to 37,000 and there have been more than 262,000 cases.
Professor Spector, who works in genetic epidemiology research, said: “Two weeks after the Cheltenham Festival and the Liverpool game against Atletico Madrid, we saw the number of people reporting COVID symptoms in the COVID Symptom Study app from those particular areas increase and both areas became key hotspots in the UK.
“This suggests that both events were, in part, a cause for the spread of COVID-19 in those areas.”