The US has probably only counted about 10% of people infected with coronavirus, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.
The CDC has been looking at antibody tests done across the country to see how many people had past infections that were not diagnosed at the time, and sees many more cases than have been officially reported.
“A good rough estimate now is 10 to 1,” Redfield said in a media briefing.
With more than 2 million official diagnoses, that would mean more than 20 million Americans have been infected.
These numbers are in part because testing was at first limited to people who were very ill and showing up in hospitals or in nursing homes. Now, as more people are getting tested, it’s clear that a large percentage of people did not have any symptoms, or mild symptoms, Redfield said.
“The estimates that we have right now … is that's about 10 times more people have antibody,” Redfield said.
Redfield estimates that between 5% and 8% of Americans have been infected with coronavirus but said that will vary from region to region. New York, which had an intense epidemic, will have a higher percentage of people with past infections than some states in the West, for instance, he said.
But that means 90% or more of Americans have not been infected and are fully susceptible to the virus, he said.