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The coronavirus epidemic in Los Angeles County reportedly infected at least 200,000 people in early April, which would far exceed the number of officially confirmed cases, according to a report released Monday.
A large study by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that 4.1% of the county’s adult population had antibodies to the virus in their blood, which is an indicator of past exposure.
According to the county’s population, this means that between 221,000 adults and 442,000 adults in the region have already been infected, according to the study.
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“We do not know the true extent of COVID-19 infections in our community because we have only tested people with symptoms and the availability of tests has been limited,” said lead investigator Neeraj Sood, professor of public policy at USC Price. School of Public Policy. “The estimates also suggest that we may have to recalibrate disease forecasting models and rethink public health strategies. “
The results were determined from antibody tests of approximately 863 people who were representative of L.A. County, according to researchers from the L.A. Times.
The estimated infection numbers are 28 to 55 times higher than the 7994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported by County of L.A at the time of the study in early April.
Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Public Health Department, said the results show that a significant percentage of the population had the virus without knowing it and “was at risk of spreading the virus to others.”
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Due to the higher number of infections, this also means that the death rate from the virus is much lower than expected.
“Although the results indicate a lower risk of death in people infected than previously thought, the number of deaths from COVID every day continues to increase, highlighting the need for continued prevention and control efforts vigorous, “said Paul Simon, Scientific Officer. agent for the LA County public health department and co-leader of the study.
At least 615 coronavirus deaths were confirmed in the county on Tuesday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
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The researchers plan to repeat the study every few weeks for several months to track the spread of the virus, the L.A. Times reported.