The Los Angeles Times is reporting that hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles County residents may have been infected with the coronavirus by early April, far outpacing the number of officially confirmed cases, according to a report released Monday.
The initial results from the first large-scale study tracking the spread of the coronavirus in the county found that 4.1% of adults have antibodies to the virus in their blood, an indication of past exposure. That translates to roughly 221,000 to 442,000 adults who have recovered from an infection, according to the researchers conducting the study. The county had reported fewer than 8,000 cases at that time. The findings also suggest the fatality rate may be much lower than previously thought.
This discrepancy also means that the U.S. could be inching closer to herd immunity which is when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease because they’ve had it. Usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity which absent a vaccine, would be key to a return to normal life.
The early results from L.A. County come three days after Stanford researchers reported that the coronavirus appears to have circulated much more widely in Santa Clara County than previously thought.
Though the county had reported roughly 1,000 cases in early April, the Stanford researchers estimate the actual number was 48,000 to 81,000.
The findings indicate that a significant portion of those carrying the virus apparently don’t show no symptoms at all, and therefore are unknowingly infecting others.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, said during the White House briefing that the USC results underscore “concern about asymptomatic spread” because it is harder to trace.
“This has been the fundamental question to begin with,” she said, emphasizing the importance of treating the disease as “highly contagious.”
The news out of Los Angeles is in line with the exclusive reporting 850WFTL did last month on the true number of exposures to COVID-19 and when infections really began.
Infectious diseases expert Dr. Aileen Marty from FIU in Miami told Jen and Bill on March 16th, that the novel coronavirus numbers in the U.S. are wrong today because the disease has been here infecting us for months. Therefore, she says the number of confirmed cases and deaths in America and are too low. Dr. Marty believes infections in the U.S. began in January 2020.
Click here for more on 850 WFTL’s reporting from March 16th.