White–collar workers drove the start of the third Covid wave, official data suggests.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that case rates this summer were highest among office workers, bankers, teachers and other professions.
Its report also found that white people had higher infection rates per population size in May and July than ethnic minorities for the first time in the pandemic.
The figures suggest that the drive to get people back to work after the winter lockdown helped fuel the spread of the ultra-transmissible Delta variant, which was first seeded in the country in late April.
There were 235 cases among white people per every 100,000 person-weeks between May 23 and July 25.
For comparison, the figure was as low as 98 per 100,000 in other ethnic minority communities. During the second wave, which began last September, cases were highest among Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and black adults.
Experts speculated this may have been down to the fact ethnic minorities were more likely to be in blue-collar jobs and unable to work from home, increasing their risk of catching Covid.
But in the third wave, there were 229 cases per 100,000 person-weeks for lower administrative and professional positions, such as managers.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that lower rates among minorities in the third wave may be the result of higher natural immunity from previous waves.
He added that Euro 2020 may have played a role in the ONS findings, as millions of people across England poured into pubs with little regard for social distancing to watch the national team's run to the final.
Covid case rates were highest for the Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups and lowest for the Chinese ethnic group. The difference was most notable dring the second wave - between last September and May - with infection rates of up to 391 per 100,000 in the first two groups but just 93 per 100,000 for the Chinese ethnic group
In the second wave, infections stood at 196 per 100,000 person-weeks among people working in routine jobs, such as cleaners, labourers, bus and lorry drivers, and were much lower among higher managerial occupations, which include lawyers, architects, chief executives and economists (143). But in the third wave, rates are highest among lower managerial, administrative or professional occupation (229) or intermediate role (228). These jobs include managers, journalists and teachers, as well as bank staff, paramedics and police officers
Top doctors have pledged to shun any potential booster Covid vaccine they will be offered amid backlash that spare doses are not being sent to poorer countries.
Third jabs are a key part of No10's plan to avoid another crisis this winter and prevent another lockdown. Up to 32million Britons over the age of 50, frontline NHS workers and care home residents will be offered another jab in the run-up to Christmas.
Evidence has shown that immunity can wane over time but experts are yet to decide whether there should be a wider rollout in the UK. Israel, however, has already said all over-12s can get a third dose.
But ever since the idea of dishing out top-up vaccines was first touted, some experts have insisted extra jabs would be better used by giving people in other countries a first dose.
Now some leading British medics have declared that they will opt out of getting any booster when they are offered.
Dr Jake Dunning, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Oxford and the Royal Free Hospital, compared the rollout to giving an extra life jacket to people 'while ignoring those people who have no life jackets whatsoever'.
But during the third wave, between May 23 and July 25, coronavirus infection rates were highest among office-based jobs.
The ONS suggested this was fuelled by workers returning back to the commute in May, when infection rates dropped to some of the lowest seen this year and some companies encouraged employees back to the office.
The Government agency said: 'Easing of lockdown restrictions, such as working from home and limits on social contacts, and the vaccine roll-out programme may also have played a part in the changing patterns of Covid case rates by socio-demographic characteristics over the course of the pandemic.'
Official data shows white people hold more intermediate and lower managerial roles — where cases were seen to be highest — compared to other ethnic groups.
No10 lifted its work from home guidance completely on July 19, when the vast majority of restrictions were eased. At the time, Boris Johnson called for a gradual return to the office.
In unveiling his winter plan to prevent another lockdown, the Prime Minister last week warned working from home could be brought back as a way to control a winter surge.
SAGE, which provides scientific advice to the Government, has said working from home is one of the best ways to