Coronavirus may have infected 10 times more Americans than reported, CDC says
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Government experts believe that more than 20 million Americans may have the corona virus, ten times more than official, indicating that many people without symptoms have or have had the disease, senior government officials said.
Centers for disease control and prevention estimates are based on serological tests that are used to determine the presence of antibodies that show whether a person has the disease, officials said.
Officials who spoke to a small group of reporters on Wednesday night said the estimate was based on the number of known cases between 2.3 million and 2.4 million times the average antibody rate obtained from the serological tests, say in Average of 10 to 1.
"If you multiply the cases by this ratio, you get that 20 million figure," said an official.
If so, the estimate would indicate that the percentage of deaths from disease in the US is lower than expected. More than 120,000 Americans have died of the disease since the pandemic broke out earlier this year.
The estimate comes when government officials find that many new cases occur in young people who have no symptoms and may not know they have them.
Officials said that young people without symptoms, but who are in regular contact with vulnerable populations, should be tested proactively to ensure that they do not spread them.
"We have heard from Florida and Texas that about half of the newly reported cases are people under the age of 35 and many of them are asymptomatic," said an official.
The CDC has dispatched 40 response teams to help deal with the outbreaks.
More than 36,000 new cases of COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Wednesday, just below the record of 36,426 on April 24. They focused on countries that were spared the brunt of the first outbreak or moved early to remove restrictions on the spread of the virus.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; editor of Lisa Shumaker)
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