DUBLIN — Almost 20 per cent of Americans had likely caught the coronavirus by March this year, more than double the roughly 29 million officially reported by that time, according to research published on Monday by the National Academy of Sciences.
A “statistical framework” put together by University of Washington scientists suggests around 65 million Americans caught the virus by March 7.
The team said they aimed to “provide a clear picture of Covid-19’s prevalence” as “access to tests, and a willingness to be tested, vary by location.”
Official data for Sunday show around 34.3 million cases in the US, where 608,403 people have died after catching the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An undercount of infections could mean the virus is less deadly than official numbers suggest, as the real infection-fatality rate widens substantially beyond the official case-fatality rate, or ratio between confirmed deaths and confirmed cases.
There have been several attempts at gauging the real spread of the virus, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating almost a year ago that around 700 million people worldwide could have been infected by then, the majority unaware as they had not been tested or did not exhibit symptoms of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
In India, a deadly recent virus surge has seen the official number of cases almost catch the US’s. The real number is likely far higher as the number of tests carried out among its 1.3 billion people falls short of the 480 million administered among 330 million Americans.
India’s official pandemic death toll is also likely a vast undercount, the US-based Center for Global Development said last week.