Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania revealed the true incidence of coronavirus infection in the United States. According to the findings of scientists published in the journal Science Translation Medicine, approximately 80 percent of those infected are currently not detected. Officially in the United States, approximately 2.5 million cases are registered ..
According to scientists in the article, the true prevalence of COVID-19 is seriously underestimated. Most tests for SARS-CoV-2 were performed using reverse transcription PCR, when RNA molecules are first transcribed into DNA and then repeatedly copied using special enzymes, after which they are easily detected. However, these tests are not always available and are characterized by a high level of false-negative results, and those infected may not have clinical symptoms and may not undergo diagnosis.
Specialists analyzed the data on the spread of influenza-like respiratory diseases (GRH) over a ten-year period and found that in March 2020, there was a surge in GRH in the United States above the seasonal average. Moreover, outbreaks correlated with the number of cases of COVID-19 in different states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, various respiratory viruses at that time were low in prevalence, and this allowed researchers to suggest that the increase in cases of GRH occurred precisely due to the epidemic of the new coronavirus.
Scientists also estimated the most likely number of infected people who did not seek medical help. A study of passengers on a Diamond Princess cruise ship showed that 18 percent of those infected were asymptomatic, but the total percentage of latent carriers of the infection should be much larger than this, as the majority of travelers were elderly people who were not as socially active as young people. Another study showed that in the United States, only 40 percent of adults with a transplantation syndrome out of 17 thousand people seek medical help. Together, this corresponds to an average proportion of clinical cases of COVID-19 of 32 percent.
If, in fact, only a third of patients with COVID-19 sought medical help, then an outbreak of GRH corresponds to at least 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections over the course of three weeks from March 8 to March 28, 2020. Moreover, given the start date of the epidemic in the United States, the number of cases should have doubled every four days or even faster.
The findings of scientists are confirmed by serological studies conducted in the state of New York. According to the results of PCR analysis, only 0.3 percent of the state’s population was infected with coronavirus, however, according to the authors of the work, this proportion should exceed 8.3 percent. April 23, 2020, it was announced that antibodies to coronavirus were detected in 14 percent of the state’s population as of March 29, which corresponded to the theoretical assessment of the researchers.