Study shows that most Covid-19 cases are not detected

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A group of researchers looked at the number of people going to doctors or clinics with influenza-like diseases that were never diagnosed as coronavirus, influenza, or any other viruses that usually wander during the winter.

“The findings support a scenario where more than 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred in the US in March, and estimates that more than 80% of these cases remain uncertain as the outbreak spreads rapidly.” He wrote Alex Washburne from Montana State University and colleagues at Cornell University and elsewhere.

At that time, only 100,000 cases were officially reported, and the United States still reported only 2.3 million cases as of Monday. However, there was a problem with the coronavirus test kits at that time.

The team used data collected from each state for influenza-like disease by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC uses this data to monitor the annual seasonal flu outbreak. It asks doctors to report all cases that come to treat fever, cough, and other symptoms caused by the flu.

“During the COVID-19 outbreak, we found a significant, abnormal increase in outpatients in flu-like diseases (ILI), and this has been associated with the progression of the outbreak in multiple states in the USA,” said Silverman and colleagues.

“The increase in non-influenza ILI outpatient clinics was much larger than the number of confirmed cases in each state and provided evidence of a large number of possible symptomatic COVID-19 cases that were not detected.”

These were people with symptoms in a doctor’s office or clinic. Most people with Covid-19 probably did not seek treatment for testing.

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“The US-wide ILI fluctuation peaked during the week beginning on March 15, and then decreased over the next week in countless states; major exceptions are New York and New Jersey, one of the hardest hit provinces. it hadn’t started. “

How did the coronavirus test waste valuable time?

The researchers were unable to count each case, so they did a number of calculations to make sure that their data complied with information about the state population and the annual flu epidemic and the hard data collected from real tests. coronavirus patients. They also took into account the growing evidence that people had a pandemic and people started to escape from hospitals, clinics and doctor offices after pandemic lock-ups began.

“If 1/3 of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. wanted care, this ILI increase would correspond to more than 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections across the US over the three-week period starting March 8. March 28. Until 2020 “he wrote.

After that, the cases fell. “We saw this huge summit that ended on March 22 in most places,” Silverman told CNN. Said. The cases have been decreasing since then, but the data the team has collected do not include the past two weeks.

The team is now working to approach real-time surveillance of the pandemic. Data from the CDC comes about two weeks after people visit their doctor. They hope that their approach, called syndromic surveillance, can complement the data collected from real tests. “In a dream world, everyone who comes will have a test. We will be able to get the full scope of the pandemic,” CNN said.

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