According to the CDC, the coronavirus infection total in the US may be ten times higher than official tallies. The estimate is based on blood antibody testing. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control disclosed the estimate to reporters late Wednesday night.
If infections are as widespread as the CDC thinks, coronavirus is far less deadly than authorities have feared. It would have a mortality rate on par with seasonal influenza.
The CDC’s report vindicates a trio of veteran Stanford University researchers who came under fire for drawing the same conclusion earlier this year. Using blood serum antibody tests, they said in April that coronavirus was far more prevalent than official case numbers (and therefore less lethal).
The new CDC estimates came to light amid a surge in official US coronavirus cases. The world’s third most populous country saw its biggest single-day leap in new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began Wednesday:
Across the United States, 38,115 new infections were reported by state health departments on Wednesday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 34,203 set on April 25. Texas, Florida and California led the way, with all three states reporting more than 5,000 new cases apiece.
On Sunday, the World Health Organization marked the biggest one-day leap in new cases worldwide. The US had the second-largest spike after Brazil and followed by India.
The official US coronavirus case total as of Jun 25 is some 2.3 million according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC also reports 121,809 total US deaths attributed to COVID-19 as of Friday.
If the CDC estimate is correct, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is an order of magnitude lower than authorities initially feared earlier in the year. Those concerns led to unprecedented state and municipal orders to close businesses and public places, and shelter in place.
These fears were driven by a perceived COVID-19 mortality rate ranging from 3% to 5%. That’s 5,000 deaths per 100,000 infections. Journalists arrived at that figure by the deceptively simple operation of dividing the number of COVID-19-related deaths by the case total. Many news outlets are still reporting it this week. It didn’t occur to them that there could be (most likely would be) more infections than cases.
But if we divide US COVID deaths by the CDC’s new estimate of 23 million or more infections, the mortality rate is closer to 0.5% or 500 deaths per 100,000 infections. The 2016 – ’17 flu season is the most recent with final estimates for infection totals from the CDC.
The health authority says around 29,000,000 Americans got the flu that year. With flu deaths estimated as high as 61,000, the mortality rate was 0.2% or 210 deaths per 100,000 infections.
That puts COVID-19 on the same order of magnitude as seasonal flu for lethality. And that’s with no coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile, roughly half the American population vaccinated against the flu every year over the last decade. The CDC says the flu vaccine is as much as 60% effective in reducing flu illness.
Many analysts believe the surge in cases is weighing heavily on the stock market.
After making extraordinary gains the first week in June, the major benchmarks have languished into a June swoon. Meanwhile, the price of gold– conventionally a safe haven in economic downturns– has moved to eight-year highs.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.