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Infectious Disease

On Average Only 6% Of COVID-19 Infections Detected Worldwide?

4 months ago

4284  0
Posted on Apr 06, 2020, 5 p.m.

According to research from the University of Gottingen as the number of confirmed cases continues to increase worldwide, the true numbers of infection may be dramatically underestimated. 

Estimates of COVID-19 mortality and time until death were used in a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases to test the quality of official case records, findings show that countries have only discovered on average about 6% of infections, and the number of infections globally may well have already reached several tens of millions. 

According to the report insufficient and delayed testing may explain why some countries are experiencing much higher casualty numbers relative to their reported confirmed cases such as Italy and Spain while Germany has detected as estimated 15.6% of infections compared to 3.5% in Italy and 1.7% in Spain. Detection rates are even lower in America at 1.6% and in the UK the rate is 1.2%, both of these two countries are receiving widespread criticism from global public health experts for their delayed response to the pandemic. 

South Korea appears to have discovered about half of their infections. As of March 31, 2020 Germany had 460,000 infections, based on the same method the researchers calculated that America has over 10 million infections, Spain has over 5 million, Italy has more than 3 million, and the UK has more than 2 million cases of infection. These calculations came on the same day that Johns Hopkins University reported that globally there were less than 900,000 confirmed cases, which means that the overwhelming vast majority of infections are undetected. 

Based on these findings international media outlets are parroting numbers from countries that are dramatically understating the true numbers of infection. 

"These results mean that governments and policy-makers need to exercise extreme caution when interpreting case numbers for planning purposes. Such extreme differences in the amount and quality of testing carried out in different countries mean that official case records are largely uninformative and do not provide helpful information,” said Sebastian Vollmer, Professor of Development Economics at the University of Göttingen. 

"Major improvements in the ability of countries to detect new infections and contain the virus are urgently needed,” adds Dr. Christian Bommer.

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