How Big is the Iceberg of Americans with COVID-19 Antibodies?April 6, 2020
Those with antibodies are different than those infected who are asymptomatic. Those who are asymptomatic are infected but show no symptoms.
But sooner or later, those asymptomatic develop antibodies.
Those with antibodies have been infected and their body has beaten it back.
Which is why an antibody test is such a very big deal, and why it is needed urgently to be deployed throughout the United States for a randomized sample to see how many Americans are asymptomatic or have been infected with mild symptoms, or symptoms not requiring a trip to the Emergency Room.
And below, Clark from the Spectator describes the implications of a large asymptomatic population or large population with antibodies, it means there is less reason to continue to shut down the country.
Just how many of us have COVID-19 and are not even aware of it? It’s a question at the heart of this crisis. Epidemiologists are deeply divided, and no-one truly knows. Yesterday came news from China that 130 of the 166 people most recently found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 there have proved to be asymptomatic. That is to say they had no symptoms whatsoever which would have led them to suspect that they were infected.
This is consistent with research from the village of Vo’Euganeo in Northern Italy where all 3,000 inhabitants were tested for the virus early in the Italian outbreak. There, between 50 and 75 percent of those infected had no symptoms either.
The proportion of people who are asymptomatic matters hugely because of the implications for the mortality rate and infection rate of the general population. We know that the cases which are being recorded are only the tip of an iceberg – since the UK moved into the ‘delay’ phase a couple of weeks ago we are no longer even testing people unless they present at hospital with severe symptoms. What we don’t know is how large that iceberg is. If it is as big as claimed by modeling by an Oxford team led by Professor Sunetra Gupta — which suggested that up to half the UK population could already be infected — then there may be no point in locking down Britain or any other country: COVID-19 is a chronic disease which has already spread through the population but will be of limited concern because it is not very deadly.
…There is only one way to find out who is closest to the truth — Oxford or Imperial — and that is to test a randomized sample of the UK population for antibodies to see how many of us have had the virus. Matt Hancock said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Friday that Porton Down has the facilities to undertake 500 very high-quality antibody tests a day – which is enough capacity to undertake a randomized study within a few days. It is a study we desperately need now.