A group of researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Melbourne has concluded that COVID-19 contagion levels were much higher, across the globe, than official data collects. Their conclusions have been published this week in the magazine « Royal Society Open Science».
The authors have been based on data on deaths from COVID-19 from a total of 15 countries, which they have used to estimate the number of infections. Thus they have concluded that between March and August the infection rate was an average of 6.2 times higher than that detected in the official records.
“Basically, we looked at the statistics of how many people died of COVID-19 in a certain country and we went back to see how many people would have to be infected to reach that death toll», Said in a statement Steven Phipps, co-author of the work.
According to these estimates, in that period of time there were around 800 million infections between 11 European countries, Australia, South Korea, the United States and Canada.
Nations that diagnosed better than others
This study has re-emphasized that some nations did better than others at diagnosing infections among their populations. For example, in South Korea the estimated number of infections is only 2.6 times higher than that detected, while in Italy it is 17.5 times higher.
For example, in the case of Australia, while the contagion of 0.10% of the population was detected, this study places the infection rate at 0.48%. According to these estimates, if about 27,000 cases were detected, there were 130,000.
In the opinion of the authors of the study, the advantage of this estimation technique is that it can shed light when the information is incomplete, especially in those regions where there is not enough capacity to perform diagnostic tests.
“Our new method is easy to use to estimate the true infection rate, as long as there are reliable data on the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19,” explained Steven Phipps.
In the opinion of Quentin Grafton, a co-author of the study, this gap between what was detected and what was estimated “has important implications for both control and the probability of becoming infected.”
Although the diagnostic capacity of countries has improved markedly since March, the results are worrying, according to the authors: «These findings seriously question how we deal with all facets of the pandemic. of coronavirus ».
This is not the first time that the gap between the diagnosed cases and the actual numbers has been reported, since experts have warned since the beginning of the pandemic that the real extent of the spread of the virus was being underestimated. Furthermore, other studies have shown that this gap existed in nations such as the United States.
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