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COVID-19: Only around six percent of all coronavirus infections detected worldwide
According to official figures, more than 100,000 people in Germany have now contracted the new SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus. More than 1.2 million infections have already been registered worldwide. But according to a new study, only a small part of the cases are apparently recognized.
The number of infections with the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 may be significantly higher than previously assumed in all affected countries. Researchers at the University of Göttingen assume that only around six percent of all infections have been detected worldwide on average.
Already tens of millions infected worldwide?
According to a current announcement from the University of Göttingen, the development economists Dr. Christian Bommer and Prof. Dr. Sebastian Vollmer Estimates COVID-19 mortality and time to death from a study recently published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases to check the quality of official case records.
The researchers' calculations imply that the actual number of infected people worldwide may have reached tens of millions. Their results are available online on the Göttingen University website.
Inadequate and delayed tests
As stated in the university's communication, insufficient and delayed tests could explain why some European countries such as Italy and Spain have much higher casualties (compared to the confirmed cases reported) than Germany.
An estimated 15.6 percent of infections have been identified to date, compared to just 3.5 percent in Italy or 1.7 percent in Spain.
Detection rates are even lower in the US (1.6 percent) and the UK (1.2 percent) - two countries that have been widely criticized by public health experts for their delayed response to the pandemic.
Overwhelming majority of infections so far undetected
In sharp contrast, almost half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the country seem to have been discovered in South Korea. The authors estimate that around 460,000 infections had occurred in Germany by March 31, 2020.
Using the same method, experts calculate that over ten million infections have occurred in the United States, over five million in Spain, about three million in Italy, and about two million in the United Kingdom.
On the same day, Johns Hopkins University (USA) reported that there were fewer than 900,000 confirmed cases worldwide, meaning that the vast majority of infections have remained undetected.
In the meantime (as of April 6, 2020) more than 1.2 million infections are known worldwide and over 100,000 in Germany, according to the US University.
Official case numbers do not provide helpful information
"These results mean that governments and policymakers must exercise extreme caution when interpreting the number of cases for planning purposes," Vollmer said.
“Such extreme differences in the scope and quality of the tests carried out in the different countries mean that the official number of cases does not provide any helpful information,” explains the scientist.
"The ability to detect new infections and thus curb the spread of the virus urgently needs to be improved," adds Bommer.
Curb infections with more tests
Other experts see the same. For example, researchers from Italy recently pointed out that increased corona tests could lower infections.
It is therefore gratifying that antibody rapid tests are now also available.
In addition, the test capacities for the detection of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 could be drastically increased worldwide with a new method. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- University of Göttingen: COVID-19: Only 15 percent of SARS-Cov-2 infections are recognized in Germany, (accessed: April 6, 2020), University of Göttingen
- Robert Verity, PhD; Lucy C Okell, PhD; Ilaria Dorigatti, PhD; Peter Winskill, PhD; Charles Whittaker, Msc; Natsuko Imai, PhD; et al .: Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis; in: The Lancet Infectious Diseases, (published: 03/30/2020), The Lancet Infectious Diseases
- University of Göttingen: Chair of Development Economics / Center for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), (accessed: April 6, 2020), University of Göttingen