In the global fight against Coronavirus, three major questions remain: how many people are actually infected with Coronavirus that we don’t know about, how many people have been infected with Coronavirus and have already gotten over it, and what is the actual mortality rate. Until we know the first two numbers, the world will be stuck speculating the third, and an appropriate response to the pandemic cannot be selected.
While the United States is testing well over 130,000 people a day, it’s impossible to know how many asymptomatic people who never elected to get tested are walking around infecting others, and how many people who were in that group have won their battle against COVID-19 without being formally diagnosed.
If instead of the 500,000 cases in the U.S. there were actually 25 million, then the mortality rate for Coronavirus would be on par with the seasonal flu and we can all get back to work. If instead that number were only 1 million, then further lockdown measures would be justified. But we don’t know that number and thus we must stay locked down.
Reason Magazine reported on the first small but promising German study to calculate just that. “Over the last two weeks, German virologists tested nearly 80 percent of the population of Gangelt for antibodies that indicate whether they’d been infected by the coronavirus.” Because the town was especially hit hard, “around 15 percent had been infected, allowing them to calculate a COVID-19 infection fatality rate of about 0.37 percent.” While it’s still higher than the flu mortality rate of 0.1%, the new estimated death rate is almost 6 times lower than the previously assumed German mortality rate of 2%.
Reason continued, “the researchers also concluded that people who recover from the infection are immune to reinfection, at least for a while.” People who recovered from COVID-19 can begin to get back to work without fear.
German researchers who participated in the study warn “that it would be wrong to extrapolate these regional results to the whole country.” The study was a small sample of a single town in Germany, and may not be representative of the entire country, or even the United States. “But they also believe these findings show that lockdowns can begin to be lifted” in Germany, if proper, less restrictive social distancing is continued.
Luckily, health officials around the country are gearing up to replicate Germany’s testing. Last Friday, LA “health officials [began] testing the blood of 1,000 randomly selected residents, including those with no symptoms, to see if they have or had COVID-19.” The National Institute of Health also began their own 10,000 people ‘serological survey’ – the collection of randomly selected person’s blood to test for COVID-19 antibodies. If all goes well, we will have a better understanding of how widespread Coronavirus is and when we can finally get back to work!
Categories: World News