The number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. could be nearly eight times higher than current reported cases, according to a new model by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between Feb. 27 and Sept. 30, there were 6.8 confirmed COVID-19 infections, but when researchers adjusted for potential false-negative test results, incomplete reporting of cases and asymptomatic or mildly ill individuals who never got tested, they learned there may have actually been about 52.9 million infections.
That means only 13% of total infections were identified and reported, the team said in their paper published Nov. 25 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
In other words, about 84% of the U.S. population has yet to contract the coronavirus, “and thus most of the country remains at risk, despite already high rates of hospitalization,” the CDC researchers said.
“Improved estimates of SARS-CoV-2 infections, symptomatic illnesses, and hospitalizations over time, are critical to our understanding of the severity and burden of this new virus,” they added.