WSJ: Why We Don’t How Many Americans are Infected — and How We Know the Totals are Too Low
Sparse testing is just one reason the official tally is far too low, but the numbers will get more reliable over time
Preliminary research by mathematical modelers in the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found the U.S.’s case count likely represented just 14% to 19% of actual infections that produced symptoms. (By contrast, South Korea had identified between 53% and 90% of total cases in the country, the researchers said.)
Having the total number of infections would allow officials to calculate the overall infection rate, and by subtraction, what share of the population remains uninfected and vulnerable. It would also allow a closer estimation of how many of those infected develop severe cases or die—information critical in planning for hospital capacity.
Still, clear answers will take years and require careful analysis of death certificates, hospital records and broad antibody testing of the entire population.