At least 20 million people in the US may already have been infected with COVID-19, according to the latest estimate by health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the true number of cases is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure, as cases are now rising in more than half of states and a new warning came of the risk of “apocalyptic” infection in major cities.
The new estimated numbers from the federal agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that many people without symptoms have or have had the disease, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
The news came as Texas, one of the most populous US states, has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases and the governor on Thursday announced that he would have to pause the next phases in what has been a rapid reopening of business. Cases are now rising in 29 US states, up from 22 earlier this week.
The CDC’s new estimate that for every diagnosis of coronavirus in the U.S. it is likely that 10 more people are or have been infected is based on serology testing used to determine the presence of antibodies that show whether an individual has had the disease, the officials said.
The officials, speaking to a small group of reporters on Wednesday night, said the estimate was based on the number of known cases, currently nearing 2.4 million in the US, multiplied by the average rate of antibodies seen from the serology tests, about an average of 10 to one.
“If you multiply the cases by that ratio, that’s where you get that 20 million figure,” said one official.
If true, the estimate would suggest the percentage of US deaths from the disease is lower than thought. More than 122,000 Americans have died from the Disease since the pandemic erupted earlier this year.